Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo Issues Warning About New Scam Targeting Charities

Press Release Date:  Friday, July 21, 2006  
Contact Information:  Vicki Glass, 502-696-5643 Office  

Attorney General Stumbo announced today that charities are being targeted by foreign sweepstakes and lotteries.

The charitable organizations typically receive an email asking for an address to which a donation can be sent. Soon, a check for thousands of dollars arrives, but the charity is asked to wire a portion of the donation to a foreign country to assist with a payment owed by the “contributor.”

For example, a Kentucky non-profit recently received a check for $9,000.  However, the contributor sent an email asking that $4,200 of the payment be wired to Nigeria.  The email stated that the “extra funds on the check is meant to cover the payment of the service of the publisher of a magazine company whose services I employed to help me feature the memoirs and memories of the captured moments during my wedding celebration three months ago.”

The email continued, “As soon as you receive the check today, deduct your own funds for the payment and help transfer the rest…as they are expecting to receive the funds from you today so they can proceed with their arrangements regarding what I requested of them.”  It is requested that the money be wired to an address in Nigeria.

“This is a new twist on the old counterfeit cashier’s check scam,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “Scam artists are now sending counterfeit checks to needy charitable organizations and requesting that a portion be forwarded to a foreign address immediately.  In the past, consumers who fall prey to similar scams not only lose money by wiring the funds, but then are pursued by banks to return the funds or be prosecuted,” explained Stumbo. “This is why educating consumers is a top priority of my Office. Once stolen, this money is very difficult to recover.”

Attorney General Stumbo urges charitable organizations and all consumers to follow these tips to avoid victimization:

  • Never respond to foreign sweepstakes/lottery calls or mail. All foreign sweepstakes and lotteries are illegal in Kentucky.
  • Avoid responding to any sweepstakes notices. It only increases your junk mail and your chances of being swindled.
  • Never wire money to anyone who claims that you have won a prize. If you have to pay in order to receive your prize, it is illegal in this state.
  • If you received a check from a sweepstakes promoter (even if it looks official,) contact the Office of the Attorney General at 1-888-432-9257. Never deposit the check and spend the money. You may be held liable for the amount of the counterfeit check by your bank.