2012-04-19 / Lifestyles

Local law enforcement agencies wants to make public aware of recent scams

Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police would like to make the public aware of the following internet, mail and phone scams that have been reported in the area. Late Tax Scam

Sheriff Harris wants taxpayers that are filing late or filing for extensions to beware of a new scam on the internet that lures taxpayers into filing tax information on a site masquerading as a member of the Free File Alliance.

“Con-artists are always looking for a way to cheat the public out of money,” said Sheriff Harris. “While filing via the internet saves time and often means quicker returns taxpayers need to be aware that there are people out there trying to get your money.”

The latest twist on tax scams involves tax preparation websites that inaccurately say they are part of the Free File Alliance, a partnership between 19 tax software companies and the IRS. The IRS is working with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to look into allegations that the websites accepted tax information from taxpayers, changed the taxpayers’ bank account numbers to their own and then filed the return through a legitimate Free File partner.

Sheriff Harris encourages taxpayers looking for a free e-filing solution to visit the official IRS website IRS.gov for more information. To qualify for free e-file, taxpayers need to have an adjusted gross income of less than $52,000. The IRS estimates that 95 million out of the 136 million taxpayers meet this qualification. Fake “Lottery”

Sheriff Harris also wants the citizens of Schoolcraft County to be aware scammers are now targeting your bank account via a lottery check scam. The Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports from local residents who have received checks that appear to be legitimate in the mail with a letter claiming the recipient has won and “international lottery”. Sheriff Harris warns the residents of Schoolcraft County these checks are counterfeit and just another attempt by scam artists to take your hard earned money.

Here is how this “lottery” scam works:

• You receive a letter in the mail indicating you are the winner of a large cash prize in an “international lottery”. The letter is accompanied by a realistic looking check. The amount of these checks varies from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. The letter indicates the check is to cover taxes you must pay before you can claim your prize.

• You are instructed to deposit the check in your bank account and immediately forward the funds to a processing representative or tax authority, usually a post office box in another country. The letter says you are required to forward the funds by Western Union Money Gram, cashier’s check or money order.

• The “check” you have deposited bounces, since the account it is drawn on doesn’t exist. However, by the time you are notified of this you have already sent the funds back out via irretrievable Money Gram, cashier’s check or money order. You are left with a deficit in your account and the possibility of criminal charges for passing a bad check.

“Remember a legitimate lottery will never ask you to pay taxes up front,” said Sheriff Harris. “Legitimate lotteries, like the Michigan Lottery, will withhold any tax payment from your winnings.” In fact, the Michigan Lottery will never contact you to tell you that you’ve won the lottery. You have to contact them with your winning ticket number.

If you receive any suspicious checks in the mail report them to your local law enforcement agency. You should also file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office by calling (877) 765-8388 or filling out their on-line complaint form: https://secure1.state.mi.us/complaints/ consumer.aspx. Green Dot Money Pak card

Michigan State Police would like to report a new wire type scam involving the Green Dot Money Pak card.

In this matter the victim receives a phone call where the caller identifies himself as being affiliated with a publisher group and then promises a large amount of money and a vehicle if the victim purchases a Green Dot Money Pak card from a local retailer.

The Green dot Money Pak card is a legitimate reloadable debit card that can be purchased from local retail stores.

During the scam the suspect/ broker commonly delivers a check or money order to the victim in exchange for information from the legitimate card purchased by the victim. The suspect(s) are then able to use the victim’s card information to reload their own card and then the money is usually then withdrawn at an ATM. When the victim goes to cash the check or money order it is found to be fraudulent/forged and the victim has lost whatever money was initially invested in the Green Dot card.

Sheriff Harris and the Troopers wish to remind the public, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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