You didn’t win the lottery; you got ripped off 

The check may be in the mail, but it ain’t real.

Police are warning residents about a check scam targeting San Francisco residents, Officer Gordon Shyy said in a statement Thursday. In the scam, potential victims are mailed a letter saying they won $135,000 from “The National Lottery” in England, Shyy said.

Enclosed with the letter is a fraudulent check for $3,750, payable to the recipient. The amount is said to cover a British tax on the “winnings,” Shyy said.

The letter says the recipient must pay $1,960 of their own money for the tax through a fictitious agent, even though the letter states the $3,750 check reportedly covered the entire tax. When payment is made, the victim is led to believe they will receive the rest of the winnings.

Police are warning potential victims that if they receive an unsolicited or unusual check to be suspicious and conduct an Internet search on any listed phone numbers, email addresses or names on the letter that could alert the victim to the scam.

Recipients also are advised to not call any phone number provided in such a letter because the sender could use the victim’s phone number to data-mine information, Shyy said. Victims’ personal information can be sold for possible identity theft and other scams.

Anyone with information on scams such as this should contact the Police Department’s financial crimes unit at (415) 553-1521.

rnagle@sfexaminer.com

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