A team of Canadian and U.S. fraud investigators based in Montreal announced Tuesday the seizure of more than 50,000 pieces of mail containing fake checks totaling $195 million.
No arrests have been made in the case, but U.S. Postal Inspection Service officials said an investigation is ongoing.
The seized mail contained letters telling the recipient that he or she has won a cash price worth thousands in an international promotional campaign and includes a $2,000 to $5,000 check.
To collect the full amount of the “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. But by the time anyone discovers the check is fake, the scammer has the money and the recipient gets nothing.
Postal inspectors caution the public that there is no legitimate reason for any contest promoter, business or organization to ask that a check be cashed and wired back.
Officials ask anyone who receives a letter containing a suspected fraudulent check to report it to postal inspectors at www.fakechecks.org or (800) 372-8347.