Why I turned down $150,000

Why I turned down $150,000

Glen Robinson

I got home last night late, burdened down with worries. I stopped by the mailbox and grabbed the handful of bills there, then answered my cell as I entered to door of the house. While I was talking to my son on the phone, I flipped through the letters until I came to an innocuous looking one, postmarked in Canada with no return address.

To be brief, it was a company called A&G Financial Solutions on East 42nd Street in New York, stating that I was a lucky winner in the first category of Penguin Books Publishing House Sweepstakes and was entitled to $150,000.

Normally I glance at these kinds of letters briefly before they find their inevitable place in the trash can. But with the letter came a very authentic looking check for $3,450.

“Attached is a check,” the letter said, “for the amount of $3,450 available to you in order to pay the applicable taxes and processing fee. The total amount to be paid is $2,800.”

It went on: “Please contact your claim agent Chad Morris at 1-647-995-5532 for more details on how to process your winnings.”

My first inclination was, Wow, this looks real. I shared it with my wife, who didn’t feel the same optimism. Then I started noticing a few details that sent red flags up:

1. The letter was photocopied except for my name and the date, which was typed onto the page.

2. I went on the Internet and could find no reference to either A&G Financial Solutions or Penguin Books Publishing House Sweepstakes. We later looked for the bank listed on the check—PNC Bank of Jeanette, PA–and noticed that there was no street address and the check misspelled the town Jeannette.

But that check–at first glance–still looks pretty authentic. I did some more reading and learned that the scam is that they expect you to deposit the check and use it to send them the $2,800 in “applicable taxes and processing fees.” When the check bounces weeks later, you are held responsible.

I’m not writing this to boast about how smart I am. I was sorely tempted to go along with the scam. Heaven knows we could use the money.

But I am concerned that others are likely to fall into the same net that I almost fell into. The old saying is true, and I urge you to heed it:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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11 Comments

  1. Genesis
    March 31, 21:48 Reply
    Thank you sir for this post my niece received the same letter and the same check for the same amount and right away i was was very suspicious of this because neither her nor i could remember entering any such sweepstakes. We decided to search the internet for more information on the sweepstakes and the only thing that came up was this article thank you so much for saving us the trouble!!!!
  2. David K
    April 04, 14:37 Reply
    My Dad, who suffers from dementia, has apparently received the same thing. His first-class mail is all forwarded so this had to have come via 3rd class mail (the mailman delivers junk mail essentially as a favor, since that way my Dad thinks he still "gets all his mail"), and of course any official notification wouldn't come 3rd class. I haven't seen the physical papers yet, but based on the descriptions I'm about 99% certain he's got the same scam that you got. Unfortunately, my father, who had always been a pretty trusting guy even before his illness, told us that 'Oh, it's definitely legitimate, I called the guy and he told me it was" and insists that he's already deposited the check and will be sending the "tax payment". We know this isn't true, since he no longer has any bank accounts, but I feel bad for others in a similar situation who might get fooled and actually act on it. I was wondering if you still had the paperwork and would be willing to email me a scan of the documentation? Part of the reason for asking for it is that I'd like to have it to show my father to prove that he's being scammed. I may also do a little digging and see if perhaps the USPS is the proper agency to follow up since it would seem that this is pure mail fraud. Thanks, and as the other person mentioned, thanks for posting this as it turned up in a search and verified my concerns.
  3. kong
    April 06, 23:03 Reply
    thank you ! you really save my day !
  4. Clio
    April 09, 18:56 Reply
    Someone really needs to take charge and report this to the authorities.
  5. Mandee
    April 13, 03:32 Reply
    I just received the same letter today. That check really does look real and was really tempting. This is the only thing I could find on the entire net about it. Thanks so much for your post!
  6. Dan
    April 13, 22:31 Reply
    I got the same letter and check, and am glad to find this information. They don't make it easy to try to report this type of fraud. I'll keep trying.
  7. Joshua
    April 20, 19:26 Reply
    I got a letter like this some weeks ago. I called the location, checked it out online, and even called the bank that was on the check. First, as was stated earlier...no website for the company. In todays age of information, if a company like this does not have one, then something is definitely up. Second, my check said "Cathay Bank" on it, which is indeed a real bank. Always call the bank that is issuing the check and see if the numbers and account holder on it are legit. When I called Cathay Bank, they said they had already received a copy of the forgery and were aware of the scam. Third, I checked the address on Google maps, and the company at that address was shown to be an LLC that does property management and real estate. None of the executives or contact information for that company matched the name on the letterhead I was given. Also remember that there was no suite on the address, so the likelihood of multiple tenants at that address is highly unlikely. This sounds like a step above the "inheritance emails" emails that were coming out of Africa. Simply another way of money laundering. Also, when I did a reverse phone search on the number, it came up as a number in Toronto, unfortunately, wouldn't give me the name of the person. What did turn up was the company name "Fido Solutions Inc.", which does similar scams, just with different names, numbers, and companies on the letterhead.
  8. Nesa
    May 14, 00:41 Reply
    I would like to know what to do now ; because my brother had the same letter today and he went to the bank to deposit thinking it was real check and I would like to know what should I do in order reverse this ..
  9. Glen Robinson
    May 14, 13:35 Reply
    They make their money when you send a check in reply. Don't withdraw or write checks against the deposited check; it will eventually bounce. And talk to your bank.
  10. Kim
    July 24, 21:59 Reply
    We received the same type of letter from Reliable Research and Marketing Sweepstakes Inc. Thought it seemed too good to be true. Hope this helps some others who may be tempted to give it a try!
  11. John
    March 28, 03:33 Reply
    thank you so much..!!

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