In a continuing effort to crack down on international scammers who are looking to fatten their own wallets while draining the bank accounts of American consumers, law enforcement partners of the United States Postal Inspection Service have seized additional tens of thousands of mailings bound for the U.S. containing counterfeit checks.
Today, a team of Canadian and U.S. fraud investigators based in Montreal, Quebec announced the seizure of over 50,000 pieces of mail containing fake checks, with a face value of nearly $195 million. The announcement was made by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who spearhead "Project COLT," a cross-border partnership aimed at disrupting and preventing fraud. Postal Inspectors have been members of this partnership since its inception in 1998, along with other federal agencies in the U.S. and Canada. Most of the letters were addressed to U.S. recipients. The seizures were made by Canada Post in coordination with the RCMP. No arrests have yet been made, and the investigation is continuing.
The mail contains a letter telling the recipient they've won a cash prize of up to $50,000 in an international promotional campaign, and includes a $2,000 to $5,000 check. To collect the full amount of their "prize," the recipient is asked to cash the check and quickly return all or part of the proceeds, usually via wire transfer, to pay for some kind of international administration fee. By the time the check has been found to be fake, the scammer has the money and the recipient is on the hook to their bank to repay the amount sent back.
"Even though over 600,000 fake checks have been seized since the global initiative to stop these scams began earlier this year, the scammers have not stopped trying," said Alexander Lazaroff, Chief Postal Inspector. "We are grateful to the RCMP for continuing to lead this cross-border partnership, which aims to keep these scams from reaching U.S. and Canadian consumers and maintain their confidence in the mail."
Postal Inspectors warn there is no legitimate reason for any contest promoter, business or organization to send you a check and ask that it be cashed and wired back to them ... especially for a promotional campaign or contest you never entered. Learn more about check scams by visiting the website http://www.fakechecks.org/. If you receive a letter containing a check and you suspect fraud, don't cash the check, report it to Postal Inspectors through the website http://www.fakechecks.org/, or by telephoning 1-800-372-8347.