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Scams

What is a scam? It is an attempt, through deceit or trickery, to intentionally mislead someone, usually with the goal of financial gain. Traditional scams play upon the vulnerability of people by exploiting human virtues such as compassion and trust.

A common scam: the victim is usually sent a worthless check, which the victim then deposits into their account under the assumption that it is a legitimate transaction. The victim is then urged to forward a small portion of the value of the check to the trickster as cash, and quickly. The victim then does not have time to discover that the check is fraudulent until it "bounces".

There are many different types of scams, including deceptive lotteries, inheritances, employment opportunities, overpayment on sold items, and high-profit/no-risk offers.

An Introduction to Lottery and Inheritance Scams

Lottery and inheritance scams have become a popular form of fraud. Fraudsters are able to produce documents, such as checks or award letters, which appear authentic. Victims can be easily fooled by the convincing appearance of the communications and the promise of money.

Lottery Scams

Lottery schemes tend to have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Victims are generally notified via U.S. mail.
  • Many letters appear to be from reputable companies or financial institutions.
  • Some lottery scams claim to be from other countries, such as Canada or the Netherlands.
  • Victims may receive an authentic-looking check.
  • Upon contacting an organization, victims may be asked to deposit the check and then return a portion of the money to cover fees or taxes.
  • Even though the amount requested for payment is relatively small compared to the winnings they've supposedly won, legitimate lotteries do not ask recipients to pay fees to secure their prize.
Tips on Protecting Yourself from Lottery Scams

  • If you didn't play a lottery, you didn't win.
  • Ignore communications from foreign lotteries.
  • Legitimate lotteries don't require winners to pay fees to collect winnings.
  • Never give out personal or financial information to anyone over the Internet or phone.
  • Be very skeptical of unsolicited letters, calls, or emails informing you that you've won a lottery.
Inheritance Scams

Inheritance scams try to deceive the victim into believing that a long-lost relative has passed away and left them a large sum of money. Scammers will go so far as to research family tree information to make the inheritance seem more believable. The victim may receive an email or an official-looking letter. These notifications often ask the victim to send a check to help cover expenses associated with their inheritance. Upon sending a check, the victim soon realizes they will not be receiving the money.

Most of these scams are delivered via mail, and increasingly by email. A smaller number of them are propagated by newspaper ads.

Tips on Protecting Yourself from Inheritance Scams

  • Carefully review all unsolicited regular mail and email.
  • Check with relatives about recent deaths in your family.
  • Don't give out personal information over the Internet or telephone.
If you think you may be the victim of a lottery or inheritance scam, contact the SunTrust Fraud Resolution Unit directly at 866.493.3446, Option 2.

Scams 101 Guide

Protect yourself against other types of fraudulent schemes and popular scams by reviewing the information in our SunTrust Scams 101 Guide.



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