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July 11, 2014

Fraudulent checks with an extra ‘t’

Police note several cases in area so far

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute woman who received a large check in the mail this week wants to warn others that though the check looks legitimate, it is a scam.

Kristine Garcia said that “check” from a well-known insurance company came in the mail to her husband with a claim form. The check was written on “Fiftth Third Bank” — note the extra “t” in Fiftth — in the amount of $4,350.

“It looks like a real check. It has a watermark and everything,” Garcia said.

But her husband noticed some flaws in the check and the claim letter that raised his suspicions. That prompted Kristine to check out the telephone numbers on the claim letter, and she found that they were linked to scam alerts and shady schemes.

“I don’t want someone else to fall for this,” Garcia told the Tribune-Star on Friday.

She said she contacted local police, who told her that they have received several calls recently about similar scams. Garcia’s letter came from Apex Financial Incorporated, which has international offices. The letter asks the recipient to cash the enclosed check and return a processing fee of $3,850 to cover a sweepstakes prize.

Garcia made the correct decision not to cash the check, said Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police at Putnamville.

“Every time you think ‘this is too good to be true,’ it most likely is,” Watts said of receiving an unexpected financial windfall in the mail or via the internet.

Since Garcia was not scammed, there is not much investigators can do about the attempt.

Watts said people receiving such checks should shred them, not respond to the letter or email, and not call the phone numbers listed on letters. Sometimes, calling the phone number on such letters can result in a large charge to the caller’s phone bill, and that is another angle of the scam.

Watts emphasized that anyone who feels they are being specifically targeted by a scam, such as through their personal bank account, should definitely contact police.

Anyone who may have been the victim of a scam is encouraged to report the information to police by calling the ISP Post at 765-653-4114.

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