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Scams hit residents from far away

Updated: January 6, 2013 10:02AM

ST. CHARLES — During the last week, two reports were filed with the St. Charles Police Department related to communications from far away — one reportedly from the United Kingdom and the second from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They had one thing in common: both involved scams that were designed to take money away from unsuspecting victims.

Police spokesman Paul McCurtain said the first report involved a notice and a check sent to a local resident through the mail, declaring him to be a “winner” of something called the UK and North American Shoppers Sweepstakes.

The letter explained that the check, in the amount of $3,750, had been taken out of his winnings and mailed to him to help pay for taxes and processing fees that had to be paid to the British government. The person filing the report was told to cash the check and send the $3,750 back in two installments through Western Union and Money Gram. The complainant would then receive a check for the remaining amount of $150,000 within 48 hours.

Fortunately, McCurtain said, the recipient knew about the UK lottery scam and came to the police department to file a report.

“Check scams have been around for a long time,” McCurtain said. “Remember the saying, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ If you receive a similar notice in the mail, report it and, obviously, don’t cash the check or send any money.”

McCurtain said the second incident involved a victim who applied for a loan on a website called USA Cash. Immediately after her application was sent, she began receiving telephone calls from other “payday loan”-type companies. One company, identified as “Rapid Cash” in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., advised the victim that they could approve her loan with less difficulty and she would receive her loan much more quickly.

The caller told the victim to go to a store and purchase a NetSpendReload Pack, load the pack with a $400 loan fee and send it to Fort Lauderdale. She followed the instructions and was then advised to send additional funds for processing fees along with an additional charge because her bank was a commercial bank. Total loss for the victim ran up to $753.

“Don’t apply for loans on the Internet,” McCurtain said. “There are a lot of fraudulent sites who are just trying to take your money.”

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