Police in Ripley, W.Va., Warn of Lottery Mail Scam

RIPLEY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police in Ripley are battling a new mail scam, promising hundreds of thousands of dollars to people.

But one man there isn't buying in, and he wants others to watch out, too.

William Harris, 89, has gotten his fair share of scam letters and phone calls.

"I don't go for those contests too much anyway," Harris said.

That's why he was instantly skeptical when he got a letter and a $2,400 check from "Trans America Sweepstakes" that said he won a lottery.

"Just as soon as I opened it, I knew what it was. It was a scam," Harris said.

Ripley Police said Harris isn't the first and probably won't be the last.

The scam letter, promising winnings, includes a check with security features, like a heat-sensitive mark.

"It seems legit because they put so much time and effort into actually doing this, and it's easier to fool people that way," Ripley Police Cpl. Bradley Anderson said.

"I was to take the check and get it cashed and send the money to pay the taxes and so on, on the million dollars I was supposed to have won," Harris said.

The letter also has a number for winner to call.

Police said people on the line ask for your personal information, like social security numbers and bank account numbers. It's all information you should never give out.

"With cell phones and TracFones, things like that these days, it's hard to pinpoint where these come from," Anderson said.

Ripley Police said the letters are making their way through neighborhoods there.

Harris said he's worried other senior citizens may fall victim.

"It sort of makes me mad that people would do things like that," Harris said.

But he said there's one thing to remember.

"If you have to send money to claim a prize that you've won, there's something wrong. You'd better be careful," Harris said.

Police said if you receive one of these letters or suspicious calls saying you've won the lottery, call them immediately.

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