Fraud scheme

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 12, 2006

County residents duped by sweepstakes

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

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Two Dallas County residents have found themselves in the middle of a bogus advance fraud scheme, said Assistant District Attorney James Ransom on Tuesday.

Approximately six weeks ago, a company known as Metropolitan Sweepstakes or MSIC mailed letters to random residents naming them winners of a $200,000 cash prize. Ransom said MSIC also enclosed a $2,985 Blue Cross Blue Shield counterfeit check in the letter and is “telling them they can go cash it” at area check cashing businesses.

“These people are getting these checks cashed and these businesses are out lots and lots of money,” he said. “And of course (the businesses) want to come back up on the people that cashed the check, but we don’t have any criminal charges to put on people like that.”

The District Attorney’s office is asking residents to be on high alert regarding the scheme. If residents happen to receive a MSIC letter in the mail, Ransom said they should call the Selma Police Department, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department or the District Attorney’s office, who will then forward the letters to the U.S. Secret Service Agency in Mobile.

Ransom said he doesn’t think the MSIC scheme is Dallas County-specific.

“I haven’t seen them anywhere else, but I’m sure they’re sending them all over the country,” he said.

One area check cashing business, which Ransom chose not to identify, has chosen to sue one of the residents who cashed the MSIC check in small claims court.

“It’s a bad deal for both sides,” he said.