Watch Out...Sweepstakes Scams Hit the area

You may have gotten one in the mail. Even worse you may have fallen for it. It is called "The Lottery Scam."

Every week law enforcement authorities get calls from area residents who have received letters claiming they are a "Big Winner." But before you take that check to the bank, you better check it out because it's probably a scam.

"I was just sorting through the mail and I came across this. I had no idea what it was, especially being postmarked form Canada, so I opened it up and a check fell out," says one Lufkin resident who wishes to remain anonymous. The Canadian postmark and check are dead giveaways say Lufkin police who sort through many of them every week.

Bogus claims of jackpot winnings are usually sent to elderly residents. Many of them fall prey to the official looking documents because they are stamped with real names of sweepstakes companies like Publisher's Clearinghouse or Reader's Digest. "Anyone with a computer program can make these things look good, but what you look out for is a lottery or a winning that requires you to pay something to get it. If you win a lottery, you don't have to pay to receive your money." cautions Lt. David Young.

Lt. Young says scammers are hard to tack down because they are usually overseas. So, if you fall for their tricks it will be almost impossible to get your money back. "They will send the lottery number with a check and what they do is ask the person to deposit this check, send in the deposit and get the big bucks. Well, this check is bogus so when you deposit that in your account, write them one of your checks, they take this amount out of your banking account later."

The Lufkin resident we spoke with is one of the lucky ones because he was suspicious from the start. "I was thinking, "Man, this'd be great to have this kind of money," but it just...well, like they say if it's too good tobe true, it probably is."

Investigators remind us that in the state of Texas it is illegal to enter a foreign lottery. If you receive a check in the mail that is from a sweepstakes or lottery, you should ignore it, or simply tear it up and throw it away.