Clearing House scam hits Nebraska bank, consumers - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Clearinghouse scam hits Nebraska bank, consumers

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By: Megan Palera
mpalera@klkntv.com

The state is warning of a new scam that uses a Nebraska bank to make you fall for it.

$10,000, $12,000, $13,000 checks. They look official - sent from First State Bank Nebraska to Publisher's Clearing House winners all over the country. But another look proves the checks are fake. It has Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning terrified.

"I'm scared to death that there's gonna be another 1,000 in the next few days. It doesn't take much resource to send out a very real looking letter," Bruning said.

Here's how the scam works: The letter tells you the check is to cover the fees associated with the Clearing House grand prize. You're told to deposit it in your bank account, and then wire that same amount to the claim agent listed in the letter.

"It's not a problem until somebody actually thinks that money is in there and they start paying bills or spending money otherwise and then the banks gonna come back to you after a week and say that money was never there. It's not yours," Bruning said.

In the last two days, First State Bank has returned more than 180 fake cashiers checks that had been deposited in accounts in Nebraska, Oregon, Oklahoma and Arizona. One look at the Clearing House letter shows why.

"Hope is a powerful thing. And people want to win and they hope they've won... But people need to understand that scammers will stop at nothing to take your hard earned money," Bruning said.

If you do receive a cashier's check in the mail, call the bank first to make sure it's legitimate. You can call First State Bank Nebraska at 1-877-303-9737.

Here are some other tips:
1. Don't deposit checks from unknown people.
2. Never wire money or send pre-paid charge cards to someone you don't know.
3. Never give or pay money to receive money.
4. Protect personal information like bank account and Social Security numbers.
5. Keep updated on the latest scams and fraud by following the Attorney General's Office on Twitter, @NEConsumer.gov or visit www.ago.ne.gov.
6. For more information, contact the Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 727-6432.

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