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Mail scammers who tricked a Bay Ridge woman out of nearly $10,000 went after a bigger fish this week — the woman’s congressman, Rep. Vito Fossella.
The five-term lawmaker said he received the same letter as his constituent, telling him that he had “won” $250,000 in a “Super Seven Contest” (see photo above) — the same scam reported in The Brooklyn Paper last week.
“The offer seemed too good to be true, which tipped me off right away,” Fossella said. “I can understand how some people get convinced that this is a legitimate offer.”
Here’s how the scam works: “Winners” like Fossella receive what appears to be a substantial check for $3,985 and a letter saying the winner can claim his prize if he pays “the taxes” on the award.
Skeptical, Fossella called the phone number on the letter, which appeared to be from an area code assigned to Eastern Canada.
The operator told the congressman to deposit the check and then call back so that the company could obtain his “tax information” and give him directions on how to wire the portion that he owed.
But this Bay Ridge Republican wasn’t fooled. One clue? The word “VOID” appeared nine times on a copy of the check that he made, even though it was invisible on the original check. The company told him it was a fraud prevention tactic.
Fossella didn’t follow through with the scam — but took action against the scammers by alerting his constituents to be more aware.
“The mail scam sent to me is common among con artists and victimizes countless people every year,” Fossella said in a statement. “We need to be vigilant in watching out for them and careful not to fall for their tricks.”
Fossella urged residents to contact the appropriate agencies — such as the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Postal Service Police or his office — if they are targeted by this scam or a similar one.
“Con artists are always searching for new ways to scam innocent people and steal their hard-earned money,” he said. “The best way to protect yourself from being conned is to educate yourself about the latest scams and to know what to look for.”
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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