Brandy Cline thought a $1,900 check to help pay taxes on a Canadian lottery prize seemed fishy. So, instead of rushing to the bank, she did some research.
"The check is a forgery," she said. "If I'd cashed it, the bank would have come after me to make it good."
The Tonto Basin woman said she knows that in authentic lotteries it is not necessary to pay anything to claim the money if you win.
First she investigated the company named on the check, "Ellen Sideri Partnership Inc." of New York. Documents received with the "award" claimed, "This check is from one of our financial sponsors and it is intended to help pay your Canadian taxes."
Cline said she researched the company on the Internet. It exists and has something to do with fashion. But she was still concerned and contacted the Better Business Bureau of Canada.
"The lady I talked to said they were getting calls all the time about this," Cline said.
The documents accompanying the check come from Lotto Lore Inc., a company in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Cline said she plans to file a complaint in the matter with the Gila County Sheriff's Office.
"I don't know if anyone else around here has received this, but I hope if they have, they don't get taken in. It's all a scam," she said.
The Payson Police Department has dealt with a number of different scams from Canada, Commander Don Engler said.
"But I can't recall any where there has been a check of that amount sent to someone," he said. "Usually they ask for a check to be sent to them."
Engler said the investigation and prosecution of scams goes to the Attorney General's office.
Area banks have seen residents come in and try to cash checks they recognize as part of a scam.
A manager for one of the banks said they recently had a woman come in with a similar check and bank employees tried to tell her it was a scam. The customer did not believe them.
"We can confiscate the check, but if they don't want to give it to us they don't have to," said Jenny Wager of National Bank of Arizona. "Or we can hold the check until we are able to collect on it. This individual asked how long that would be and she was told it could be months, because we knew it wasn't any good. We can also refer the people to our fraud and security services."
The banker said the funds paid in a check scam would be charged back to the customer's account, possibly resulting in bounced checks and the accompanying fees, and could even lead to prosecution.