Commentary by Capt. Brant Whipple
21st Space Wing Legal Office
Have you ever received a letter in the mail stating that you’ve won the Lottery – a lottery that you never played? And, in addition to the letter, you received a check that’s described as only a portion of your winnings? This is what is described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a mass marketing fraud.
It’s one of many frauds that could cost you time, money, and heartache.
Mass marketing frauds victimize individuals of all ages and walks of life. While there are certainly too many frauds to list in this commentary, one particular scam is the Global Resource and Finance Company fraud. This “company” sends victims a letter stating that they have won a lottery; they will also receive a check somewhere in the range of four to five thousand dollars which, according to the letter, to pay for applicable taxes on the “big win.” Before cashing the check, victims are instructed to contact a claim agent for “further instruction.” Unfortunately, no one answers the company’s telephone number listed on the letterhead which, in this case, happens to be a cell phone!
It is unclear exactly how the scam works, but according to other recipients of the letter, in Global Resource will attempt to give callers a low-interest loan once; throughout the process, callers will be asked to pay taxes on the lottery winnings and fees for the loan. Additionally, applying for this loan requires divulging a social security number, bank account numbers birth dates, etc. Once the company has the necessary personal information, they can easily steal someone’s identify, money and credit.
If you receive a letter or solicitation like the one described above, you should contact several agencies. First, if there is a legitimate bank listed on the check, you should contact the bank to inform them of the potential fraud. Secondly, I strongly encouraged you to report this fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at (877) FTC-HELP. Finally, report the fraud to your local Federal Bureau of Investigation office.
(For more information, please contact the 21st Space Wing Legal Office at 556-4871 or visit the FBI website at www.fbi.gov.)