Salt River Project warned Wednesday that phony SRP checks are being mailed to residents in the Valley and elsewhere in the United States and Canada as part of a scam to rip off consumers.
Residents have received letters accompanying the counterfeit check, usually worth more than $3,000, that say the recipient has been chosen to receive an incentive to conduct market research, or is a winner in a fictitious lottery or is receiving the initial payment of a grant for education or to start a small business.
The letter also contains a telephone number to call, which could lead to the recipient being asked to return a portion of the supposed funds to the scammer, officials said.
SRP officials said they have no involvement in any such activities, and the checks would bounce if an attempt is made to deposit them.
The scammers appear to have gotten their hands on some actual SRP checks and have copied them to make them look authentic, complete with SRP logo and watermark, said Joe O’Donnell, investigator in SRP’s security services department.
SRP has received several hundred of the checks during the past two weeks from residents who have received them in the mail and inquired if they were genuine, he said. Some attempts have been made to deposit the checks in bank accounts, although O’Donnell did not have the number.
“We’re a victim too because they are counterfeiting our checks,” he said. “This could happen to any business or any individual.”
However, he said SRP has not lost any money in the scheme.
Patricia Armstrong, an inspector in the Phoenix office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said the scam may be originating in Canada because some of the telephone numbers in the letter are Canadian.
She said the service has contacted Canadian authorities and asked them to investigate.
“We have a good relationship with the Canadian government,” she said. “We can work through the Canadian government to get those numbers shut down.”
No arrests have been made, she said.
Residents who receive the checks are asked to send them to Salt River Project, attention Joe O’Donnell, PO Box 52025, Phoenix 85072, mail station pab161; or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, PO Box 20666, Phoenix 85036.