Telephone Fraud

Return to prior page

Advance to next page in the series


Unexpected and by special delivery service, you get a check for a very large sum of money from a major corporation.  The accompanying letter says that you have won a prize in an international lottery or sweepstakes.  It tells you to deposit the check immediately.

Your bank may initially indicate that the check appears to be drawn on a valid account. Later that day, you receive a call from the swindlers advising you that taxes still need to be deducted from the check, and payment will be stopped unless you wire $10,000 to $30,000 immediately.  Only days later, with your money sent out of the country, your bank informs you that the prize check was counterfeit.


A check arrives for $2,000 – $5,000 an international sweepstakes.  A little bit later you get a call from overseas saying that you have won a million dollar lottery in some foreign country.  They tell you that the $2,000 – $5,000 was sent to cover fees and taxes on the prize.  Then they tell you to deposit the check and wire the money to pay those fees.   Later, it will turn out that the check is bogus, but only after you transfer money from your own funds to the scammer.

A different twist on this scam involves a fake check and letter telling you that you won a prize.  The letter instructs you call for additional instructions.  When you call, the rip-off unfolds as outlined above.


A stranger calls to offer you the opportunity to participate in a different international lottery every week.  They propose to charge your credit card or bank account for the cost of this service. You can be charged $10 to $100 per week for months.   Sometimes the caller will offer a “hot” opportunity on a “sure bet” package for $5,000 – 10,000.  The bad guys will send you small sums in “winnings” every now and then to make it seem real, but the whole thing is fake.


Someone calls to let you know that you have won a sweepstakes in a distant state, like California.  They ask for your bank account details to ensure payment of state taxes before you can receive your winnings.  They remove $200 to $400 from your account right away.   There may be more unapproved withdrawals the following weeks.


Acorn wishes to acknowledge the Office of the Attorney General of North Carolina for this valuable content.  If you think a loved one has been victimized, call the NC Attorney General office at 877-5NO-SCAM.