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Nixon warns of lotto scam

Friday, September 14, 2007 | 3:56 p.m. CDT; updated 9:59 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

COLUMBIA — A lottery scam using checks that appear to be from Aquila, a Kansas City-based utility company, has surfaced.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office issued Friday a news release warning consumers of the scam, though no one in Missouri has yet reported any solicitations.

Travis Ford, consumer educator for the attorney general, said the scam “could happen anywhere.”

The scam involves a letter that says the recipient has won a “Power Lotto Payout,” according to the news release. A check for $3,120 that appears to come from Aquila is enclosed in the letter. The recipient is asked to deposit the check and wire a portion of the money to another party to cover processing fees. However, the check will bounce and the consumers will lose the money they have wired.

Ford said scammers commonly print checks that look like they came from reputable organizations or businesses, such as Aquila. Banks sometimes make the money available because the checks appear to be legitimate.

Consumers have attempted to cash more than $250,000 worth of the bogus checks nationwide, Ford said.

“Any time a consumer receives an unsolicited letter saying they’ve won a prize, it’s probably a scam,” Ford said. He encouraged anyone who receives such a letter to file a complaint on the state attorney general’s Web site, ago.mo.gov, or to call the Consumer Protection Hotline, 800-392-8222.


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