If it sounds to good to be true ... it probably is.
This is the advice Payson Police Chief Don Engler and Payson resident Bud Warner would like to give to anyone who receives a check in the mail or receives a phone call about instantly winning lottery prizes.
Warner, 93, a retired mechanic, said he receives three to four letters a week from various organizations in countries such as Holland and Canada notifying him of his winnings even though he has not solicited the money. He also gets numerous phone calls from individuals alerting him to thousands of dollars he has won if he only sends money to cover the taxes or provides personal information.
Recently, he received a check in the mail for $4,950. A letter attached to the check states he is the winner of a sweepstakes and is entitled to part of the prize money. The check is to be used to pay for some of the non-resident taxes that must be paid in full before he can collect the rest of his winnings.
The letter then instructs Warner not to take the letter along with him or tell the teller at the bank about the letter when he is cashing the check.
"When I read that, it made me suspicious," he said. "I was real sure it was a gimmick."
When Warner brought the check to the bank, a teller called the Canadian bank listed on the check who said the account was closed and there was no money available.
The bank made a copy of the check and put it in a file with other fake checks that are brought in, Warner said.
Warner suspects this will not be the last phony check or phone call he receives.
"I have gotten a dozen calls from Jamaica," Warner said. "I tell them I am not interested and it is not legal what they are doing, and they still call me."
Engler said these types of scams are not new and usually prey on seniors who may not know they are illegitimate.
"Individuals should be wary of any information they receive from these companies, because it is not true," Engler said.
People are scammed out of hundreds of dollars and it is very difficult to get the money back, he said.
If you do receive something in the mail, Engler says the best thing to do is ignore it. Also take caution with e-mails that ask for personal information, even if the e-mail looks professional, because it may be bogus. Banks never seek personal information by e-mail, officials said.
If you think you have been scammed or have received phone calls or e-mails from a suspicious business, call the office of the Arizona attorney general at (800) 352-8431.