Nebraska Attorney General Bruning today joined First State Bank Nebraska in a consumer alert regarding letters claiming to be from Publishers Clearinghouse International Lotto Division. Fraudulent cashier’s checks drawn on fake accounts from First State Bank Nebraska have been included in hundreds of letters received nationwide.
Besides Nebraska, similar letters and fake checks have been reported in more than 40 states with larger volumes in California, Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Arizona.
In the past few weeks, FSB Nebraska representatives have returned more than 180 fraudulent checks after they were deposited in consumer accounts at other institutions.
In addition, they have received approximately 200 phone calls from those who received checks.
First State Bank Nebraska is located in Lincoln and the surrounding area.
Bruning is urging consumers to question any check received from unknown sources.
How it works:
• Victims receive a letter claiming to be from the Publishers Clearinghouse, International Lotto Division.
• The letter appears to be stamped with “GOVT APPROVAL.”
• Inside the envelope is a cashier’s check drawn from First State Bank Nebraska.
• Recipients are told they have won the Publishers Clearinghouse grand prize.
• Winning numbers, Claim Agent name and contact information is provided.
• Recipients are told to contact the claim agent to arrange for payment of insurance, taxes and processing fees. Additionally, the letter suggests the claim agent will need the recipient’s bank account information (for winnings to be deposited).
• Letters instruct recipients to keep all transactions confidential to “avoid double or false claims.”
• Deposited checks are counterfeit and returned for non-payment – this may take several days.
Bruning said to remember these tips:
• Don’t deposit checks from unknown people.
• Never wire money or send pre-paid charge cards to someone you don’t know.
• Never give or pay money to receive money.
• Protect personal information like bank account and Social Security numbers.
Those wishing to verify the validity of checks may contact First State Bank Nebraska at (877) 303-9737. Information is also available at www.1fsb.com.
“We at First State Bank Nebraska have spent countless hours to insure the safety of our customers and our bank from this fraudulent cashier’s check incident. We appreciate the positive response from our employees and customers as they have helped identify these fraudulent cashier’s checks and the bank has not incurred any loss to date,” bank president Jeff Krejci said.
“Scammers will try anything to increase the credibility of their scam. Schemes using local banking institutions as a front may leave consumers less skeptical,” Bruning said. “Regardless of where the letter is posted, or the banking information included, don’t trust cashier’s checks sent from people you don’t know. If you receive a check in the mail, use a trusted number to call the banking institution to verify its validity.”
Keep updated on the latest scams and fraud by following the Attorney General’s Office on Twitter @NEConsumer.gov or visit www.ago.ne.gov. For more information, contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 727-6432.