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The check is in the mail...

The envelope, letter and check that showed up at a Carbon County home on Monday tells the winner what a big winner he is. The only winner here is if he doesn't comply with the steps to get the promised $150,000.

Sun Advocate publisher

Many people have learned about scams the hard way

fall for them, because they look so real. One of the keys to spotting fakes is that nothing matches up. The envelope had a Home Depot monicker on it, the letter was from the Trustworthy Securities Group and the check was drawn on the Primerica Life Insurance Company.

The letter stated that the recipient had won $150,000 along with 20 other people. All the person won it had to do was send $1,995 to the tax agent to take care of "Government Taxes on your big winnings."

The letter, while originating in England (but posted through Canada?) said that the account had been assigned to the companies "North America Claims Affiliate" and the recipient was urged to contact that agent to make arrangements to pay the taxes.

And of course, the letter asked that no one be told about the winnings and that everything be kept confidential. That way the recipient could "avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by non-participants..."

Everything in the letter, on the envelope and what was printed on the check is the classic "give me money and I will give you more" scam that has been run on people time and time again. Unfortunately, some fall pray to it, because the check and the documentation seem so real.

"It's very sad," said Price Zion's Bank President Errol Holt as he looked at the check and the letter. "These can really hurt people. We know of one woman who lost $6000 to one of these scams. She sent the money and then the check came back. It took all she had, even her social security."

While this particular offer had some real flaws in it that were easy to spot, many don't. Holt said that many of the checks are reputable on the surface.

"If you call the bank they are drawn on, there is an account for the company listed there," he stated. "Somehow scammers get ahold of these accounts and create checks that look real."

The problem is once someone sends money to "pay taxes" or "pay processing fees" there is no way to get the money back. Police can do little to catch these crimes because they are run internationally.

"Really people just need to use commons sense," said Holt. "The saying 'If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably isn't true' is very factual."

Consider these kinds of scams the prize that costs you. Here are the ways to spot this type of crime.

1. If you won something from some contest you did not enter, it is a scam.

2.If they want you to remain quiet about the fact you won, it is a scam. Lotteries and contests like publicity, they don't shun it.

3.If the notification comes from outside the country, it is a scam.

4.If you have to send money to get money, it is a scam.

5.Taxes for winnings are never paid through an agent in connection with the company managing the contest, they are paid to the government.

6.Finally, in some scams like these, they ask for personal information if you call the number listed or email to them. If they ask for personal information, it is a scam.

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