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    (6/25/2008) NEW HAVEN- At a news conference today, Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal warned residents to be wary of e-mail and mail “winning notifications” that are often accompanied by seemingly real checks. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were 5,264 fraud complaints reported in Connecticut during 2007. Of the more than 5,000 reported complaints, 1,823 took place in New Haven County alone. These complaints include foreign money offers, sweepstakes/ lottery scams and internet auctions.

    “Surprise lottery jackpots produce only losers, never winners,” Blumenthal said. “Consumers cannot win a lottery without actually playing. An unexpected or unsolicited cashier's check should raise red flags. My office receives dozens of consumer complaints every year, but lottery scam artists are virtually impossible to apprehend -- mostly operating overseas, under the cloak of the Internet or postal system. In the battle against lottery scams, consumer education and loss prevention are key. Official lotteries do not deliver surprise notices or checks in the mail. Unsolicited supposed lottery winnings should be discarded and reported.”

    According to the National Consumers League, fake check scams were the most reported telemarketing scams in 2007 nationwide. In some of these scams, a fraudulent company or individual sends a check to a potential victim with an explanation as to why they must wire them a portion of the funds back such as to cover processing fees, overpayments and more, before cashing the check. Or, in other situations a resident will receive a check for thousands of dollars with instructions to deposit it, keep some of the funds for their compensation, and wire the rest of the money back to scammer. After the victim wires the money, the check bounces and they become responsible for the missing funds.

    “This is happening to too many vulnerable people,” said DeStefano. “In New Haven, we want to be sure that our residents are well aware of the fact that these scams are out there and that no one should fall victim to them. We’ve seen incidents where elderly individuals experience financial losses they cannot afford because these scams seem so very real.”

    The City of New Haven urges residents to be on the look-out for these types of scams, report them to law enforcement and be sure not to cash suspicious checks or send money to lotteries and sweepstakes that they never voluntarily took part in. The most popular fake check scams are:

    - foreign business offers

    - overpayments for goods

    - lottery/sweepstakes notifications

    - work at home offers that involve depositing checks and transferring funds.

    The Connecticut lottery warns that it does not issue winning notifications via email, mail, or by telephone. Any communication received contrary to this statement should be reported to law enforcement as it is most likely a scam.

    “Honest, hard working people are being taken advantage of through these scams. It’s important that we help to safeguard our community against predators by raising awareness and education on the issues,” said DeStefano.


    Contact Name: Jessica Mayorga

    Contact Email: jmayorga@newhavenct.net

    Contact Phone: 203-946-7660

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