In the past three weeks, thousands of people nationwide got letters from this week's Rogue, something called the Global United Sweepstakes Lottery, congratulating them on winning big bucks. Oregon officials report only one call but strongly suspect there are more victims because people are usually too embarrassed to report their gullibility.
In this case, "lucky" winners receive a forged cashier's check in the mail from MCT Credit Union for up to $3,000. Officials say MCT is a legit credit union in Texas that has no connection to the scam. Winners are instructed to call a claims agent for further instructions. When they call, they're told that the check is an advance on their winnings, and that they should wire the money to a location in Canada for processing and international taxes. The message promises someone will come to their homes in 24 to 72 hours with untold riches.
When the Rogue desk called the number, the message said we'd reached a "David Cohen" but that there was no room to leave a message. According to investigator Rob Brunner at Oregon's Division of Finance and Corporate Securities, con artists use recordings on disposable cell phones, letting them change numbers often to avoid being tracked.
The story is, of course, sadder for the people who wire the money to Canada. Nothing ever arrives at their doors except the original forged cashier's check, returned from MCT Credit Union because it's fake. And their bank accounts are debited for the $3,000.
Brunner says anyone who gets a winning notification from Global United or any other unknown lottery should report it to local police.