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May 30, 2014

Lottery scam: EPD warns of mail-circulated fraud

ENID, Okla. — People who have received a check for $4,350 in the mail shouldn’t get too excited.

Enid Police Department is warning of a lottery scam being circulated via mail.

Those being targeted have received letters notifying them they are the second-prize winner in the second category of the European, African and USA Consumer sweepstakes promotional draw.

The letter continues, stating recipients have won $250,000 from the lottery held April 25. The enclosed check is to cover a $3,900 processing fee.

Capt. Jack Morris attempted to contact a claims agent listed in the letter, Paul Orlando. A man identifying himself as Paul answered the call the promptly hung up when Morris identified himself as a police officer.

“How can you win a lottery you never entered?” Morris asked. “This is another scam.”

Those who attempt to collect the $450 extra from the processing check could make their banking information vulnerable and open themselves up to theft.

Morris said the department is aware of at least two Enid residents who have been targeted by the scam, but suspects there are others.

Tips for preventing fraud include:

• Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address and business license number before you transact business. Some scammers give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.

• Obtain and retain all offers in written form, but beware — not everything written down is true.

• Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”

• Beware of solicitors asking you to send money, unless you know the person or business with whom you are dealing.

• Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.

• If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local or federal law enforcement agencies.

• Be very careful about the kinds of people to whom you disclose personal information, such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth or Social Security numbers.

• Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are — the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out on the telephone.

• Banks never contact you asking for account numbers.

• If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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