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When JimAn Hilligas received a $1,000 check to be a ‘secret shopper” at Wal-Mart, she thought she was lucky.
The letter came in the mail and instructed her to take the check she received and cash it at her local bank. She was then to go to Wal-Mart and purchase a $300 gift card. The gift card was to be mailed in a self addressed, stamped envelope back to the sender and she could keep the change.
But after the Corinth woman took the letter to Wal-Mart and spoke to a manager, she learned that if she had done as requested she would have been the victim of a scam.
Hilligas said she and the store manager walked to the bank inside the store and had a teller check and see if the check was legitimate.
“The bank the check was on didn’t even exist,” Hilligas said. “Wal-Mart told me they don’t have secret shoppers and her advice was to make sure the money was there before cashing and sending money from your account.”
This isn’t the first time that Hilligas has received an offer by mail that seemed too good to be true.
Just a few months ago, she received notification by mail informing her she had won a $100 gift card.
She was instructed to call a number to “verify” her winnings.
“They wanted me to pay $9.95 with a bank or credit card, but I don’t told them I didn’t have one, so they hung up on me,” she said. “I knew as soon as they said I had to have a bank card, that it was fake.”
Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills said he averages one to two calls a week where someone is asking him about a check they received by mail or that they’ve been chosen as a sweepstakes winner.
“It’s always the same thing,” Dills said. “They want you to cash a check and send them some money or they want you to ‘verify’ your bank information and every once in awhile someone falls for it.”
Dills said he was recently contacted by an elderly Dry Ridge woman who wired $10,000 out of the country after she was told she was a sweepstakes winner and she needed to pay the taxes on the prize money.
“If you have to pay taxes on your winnings, it’s a scam because the IRS will either get the taxes when you file your income tax or they’ll take the taxes off the top before you get the prize money,” Dills said.
Dills said he’s also been informed of scams that target the elderly by sending someone to their home asking for a donation for a charity that doesn’t exist or with a phone call telling them a relative is in trouble in another state or country and they need money.
“Never let anyone in your house, even if they have what seems to be proper identification or a logo on the side of their vehicle,” Dills said.
His best advice was if something “doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.”
Anyone who believes they have been scammed or suspect a scam should call the police at:
Kentucky State Police 859-428-1212
Grant County Sheriff’s Office: 859-824-3333
Williamstown Police: 859-824-3353
Dry Ridge Police: 859-428-1212