Last week a call came into the office from retired reporter Jack Nelson, who lives in Bethesda, Md. He wanted to ask a few questions regarding a letter he received from an East Washington Street address in Quincy. The letter informed Nelson that he was the winner of a $50,000 lottery. And just to show they were on the up and up, a check made out to Nelson in the amount of $985 was enclosed.
He was instructed to cash the check and send them the money for administrative fees and other expenses. They would then issue him a check for $49,015, the balance of his lottery winnings. If Nelson had any questions, he could call this number (in Quincy): 1-647-834-8785. Nelson thought that if someone was running a scam out of Quincy perhaps I could get a good story out of it.
I tried to find 21 East Washington St. Of course, the only thing at that address was the north lawn of the Court house Square. Initially, I thought it was 21 West Washington St. and I told Nelson that it was a TV and appliance store that had been operating nearly 100 years and that I was positive nothing like that was going on. Still, I went to talk with John Stewart, owner of Stewart TV and Appliances, just to let him know that his address might be used in a scam.
When we checked the city directory, there was no such address as 21 East Washington St.
Next, I called the telephone number only to get a recorded message in English and French. The caller was asked to leave a name and number. I guess that's one way of finding out who has taken the bait.
I opened my e-mail Thursday night and had a e-mail from the "Executive Governor's Office." The subject of the correspondence was my overdue inheritance payment. It seems that "my representative," Michael Freeman, had stopped by the Commerce Bank of Kansas City to inquire about my inheritance. However, in order to hold the federal government harmless if the money goes into the wrong account, I was asked to supply verification information.
These are both scams.
My fear is that are people who will take the bait and lose money they will never recover. A month ago a news magazine show interviewed about 20 people who had fallen for various scams. People had lost thousands of dollars on these and similar scams. Just because a piece of paper looks official doesn't make it official. In this age of computers and computer programs, almost anyone who can use a computer can create this what appears to be an "official" check.
I would advise people to think. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you haven't played the lottery, why on earth would you think you won the lottery?
While it is true that I am black, I have no reason to remotely suspect that anyone from Nigeria would leave me an inheritance. I've never even met, that I know of, anyone from Nigeria. So, I think that I'm going to respond to Sylvester Adams, governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, and tell him he can just take my inheritance and give it to someone in Nigeria.