Schemes and Rip Offs: Letter Scams - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Schemes and Rip Offs: Letter Scams

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We've all had them show up in our inbox, emails from a wealthy Nigerian prince who needs your help or offers of free iPads, you just have to pay the shipping.

By now most of us know those are just scams and that's why some crooks are going "old fashioned" in their new efforts to take your money.

Letters that make it seem like you've won more that one million dollars have started showing up in mailboxes all over the area.

The one we checked out comes from a company called Award Payment Data Release.

One of our viewers, Caroline Gammon, was pretty excited when she first opened the letter, then she took a closer look. 

"I was surprised," Gammone told us, "I thought I had won all this money and then I kept reading."

What first tipped her off something wasn't right, a paragraph near the bottom asking her to send in a data release "fee" of $19.99

"If I won this money why do I have to pay for this money," Gammon said.

The Better Business Bureau says if you really have won a sweepstakes or prize the only fee you should ever pay are taxes, directly to the IRS.  In fact it's illegal for a company to charge you for "winning."

In this case it turns out Caroline or anyone else who gets this letter didn't really win a thing.

Mixed in with the confusing numbers and logos is the real story, the company is selling you a newsletter that includes details on entering contests.

They really lay it out on the back, in the faint print, quote "you have not won any money or prize."

Postal inspectors say if you think you've received a letter scam, bring it in to your local post office.  They'll send it to a national database that inspectors use to track trends and issue public warnings.

We also want to hear from you if you think you've been ripped off email our Scheme's and Rip Offs unit anytime kyleb@valleynewslive.com.

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