Con artists, operating out of Canada, unsuccessfully tried to defraud a Cherokee businessman of $2,885.
Unfortunately for the con artists, the targeted person was Fred Fondroy, who because of his experiences as a former sheriff's deputy and as a county magistrate or because of simple common sense, was not fooled for a minute by promises of $250,000 in lottery winnings and a bogus check of $3,800 representing partial payment of the winnings.
"Isn't it funny getting $250,000 so close to Christmas?" he said.
Fondroy, now an insurance agent, immediately called the Iowa Attorney General's Office. The matter is under investigation by Canadian authorities.
Bob Brammer, Communications Director for the Iowa Attorney General's Office, had high praise for Fondroy's actions. In a written statement sent to Fondroy and also forwarded by Brammer to the Chronicle Times, Brammer told Fondroy, "Thanks for being willing to tell your story. It will save someone else from this scam, most likely."
Fondroy received an authentic looking check for $3,800 from the non-existent Admiral Insurance Company of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Accompanying the check was a cover letter from Union Trust Financial, Inc., of Jasper, British Columbia, Canada, that informed Fondroy he is one of the third category winners of the Mega Millions Draw and entitled to $250,000 payable when a Tax Clearance Fee of $2,885 is received by the tax agent in Canada.
The payment method was specified as by Moneygram or Western Union.
To many, the situation would seem to have no risk. The bank would likely cash the check that appears to be an authentic check issued to a respected businessman. The payment of $2,885 would be made, leaving over $900 profit even before the lottery winnings are delivered.
However, the check would bounce and the bank would require reimbursement from the person who cashed it.
Brammer stated, "We are on a mission to do all we can to warn people about these counterfeit check scams. They are very nasty because people's guard goes down when the bank gives them money until the check bounces a week or two later and the bank comes back for its money."
A press release recently issued by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller warned about a wave of counterfeit-check lottery scams.
"The crooks get the money, and the victim gets nothing but a big loss and the bank coming back for its money," Miller said. "Typical victims lose $2,900 or $3,900 or more, with the promised winnings never to be seen. And the crooks are almost certainly in Canada or Africa, impossible to trace and punish. Consumers have to be smart and reject this wave of lottery scams, and all forms of counterfeit check scams"
The Attorney General's Office and Lottery are developing consumer protection ads to warn about the scams and plan to release the ads later this winter. In addition, the Attorney General's Office has issued Consumer Advisories about the scams and the Lottery has added a new "Player Security" page to its Web site to provide inform