Clearfield man alerts state authorities to scam

HARRISBURG – A Clearfield man has helped to alert residents about a Canadian lottery scam.

“The resident wisely recognized that winning $85,000 in a lottery he didn’t play was too good to be true,” Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale, said. “He alerted my office about the scam so others would not be defrauded.”

Rep. George said the resident received “final notification” of winning the North American Shopper’s Lottery, based in Milton, Ontario, with a check for $1,850 to pay for “processing charges.” The bogus check was written on a check from a lobster restaurant in Maine.

“The scam instructs the lottery ‘winner’ to deposit the lottery check and then send a personal check in the same amount to the lottery,” Rep. George said. “The original check bounces but the unsuspecting recipient loses the same amount from his or her checking account.”

Rep. George said the lobster house in Maine also has been victimized, having its checks fraudulently copied and having the company’s name besmirched.

“The owner and president of the lobster house is originally from western Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Penn State,” Rep. George said. “He is working with authorities in Maine and New Hampshire to squelch the scam.”

The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General has information about Canadian lottery scams at its Web site, Consumers with questions or complaints also may call the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s toll-free hotline at 800 441-2555.

Another scam involves callers claiming to be affiliated with the Social Security Administration.

“The callers ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information that they use for identity theft,” Rep. George said. “It’s open season for grifters, so people need to be very careful on what information they divulge.”

Anyone who may have released information to callers should call their financial institution immediately. Credit bureaus should also be asked to place a fraud watch on their accounts. The credit bureaus and their toll-free telephone numbers are: Equifax, 800-997-2493; Experian, Information Solutions, 888397-3742; and TransUnion, 800-916-8800.

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