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Potential Pitfalls of Apparent Windfalls - Be on the lookout for fake check scams


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is warning Wisconsin consumers to be on the lookout for "fake check" scams.


"New scams are being developed every day and often seek to take advantage of an individual's trust and good will," said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "Everyone should be on the lookout for potential scams."


One such scam that consumers should be on the lookout for are "fake check" scams. As with any other scam, there are countless variations to these. However, they all follow similar patterns.


In this scam, a person is contacted in regards to a contest they have won. The victim is asked to pay a tax to the government in order to receive their winnings. They are provided a check equal to the amount owed in taxes, and told to deposit the check and send the tax to the claim agent, whose information is provided. However, the agent is really a scammer who will then take the money and disappear.


Another variation of this scam involves a person being contacted by someone in a foreign nation who claims to have recently acquired a large sum of money. This person then confesses their desire to transfer the money to the United States for any number of reasons. The victim is sent a check in order to initialize the transfer, and told to keep some for their help. Unfortunately for the victim, after they send back a portion of the money--which is taken from their own accounts--they find out the check was forged, and they just gave away a hefty sum of money to a person who most likely doesn't exist.


The other big example of this type of scam relates to persons who are selling something and are contacted by a scammer and sent a check for much more than the purchase price and then asked to return the difference. The check from the purported buyer is later found to be a phony. Additional information on this version of the scam is available at:


Additional consumer protection resources are available at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)


and at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP)