Senior approached again with sweepstake scam

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – An 88-year-old resident repeatedly has been targeted by fraudulent sweepstakes con artists in an apparent attempt to access her identity and her bank accounts.

The alleged scam artists, who police say go by Goldrain Financial Inc. Bob Stevens, or even falsely claiming to be the well-known Publishers Clearing House,’ try to get contest “winners” to provide some “up front” money to either pay taxes, avoid taxes or get a quicker payout.

The bank account number on the check of the innocent “prize winner” then is fraudulently misused, often emptying the victim’s account.

When entered into an Internet search engine, Goldrain Financial appears as a fraudulent company involved in sweepstakes scams.

The woman received a $4,800 check in the mail dated March 29, 2010, bearing the name “Allergan USA Inc.” printed on the front, payable to her. She was instructed to “activate” (cash) the check, then use it to pay the “taxes” on her alleged winnings of $485,000.

Police traced one address she was given to send her check and payment, and the address was associated with a trailer park in Louisiana. The alias used for that transaction was “Eric Williams.”

Allergan appears to be a legitimate company, police say, whose checks are being used fraudulently. Experts say sometimes con artists misappropriate small refund or rebate checks and doctor them to appear to be made out for large amounts.

At the time of the woman’s report, though, police were unable to reach anyone in the company at Allergan other than security guards because of the time difference and the holiday weekend.

Police then gave the woman information about signing up for the national “do not call” lists, and how to opt out of unwanted mailing lists.