DOJ: News Release

McGrath: Scam Artists Use Department of Justice Address, State Phone Number

HELENA – The Office of Consumer Protection in the Montana Department of Justice said today that it has received reports of scam artists using DOJ information in an effort to rip off consumers around the country.

In this particularly brash scam, consumers receive a box with a check — amounts range up to about $18,000 — inside it. The return address on the package and some other information in the correspondence make it appear as though it came from the Montana Department of Justice in Helena. The return address also includes a telephone number that — ironically — rings at the Montana Board of Crime Control.

The payer information on the checks is from a Florida company and the bogus checks are signed by the famed — and deceased — American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright died in 1959.

“These checks aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on,” said Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath. “Don’t cash them, don’t call the phone numbers and don’t send email to the address in the letter.”

The scam is the latest variation on a ruse in which consumers receive an unexpected check in the mail. Sometimes the letter tells the recipient he’s won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes game, or some letters instruct the recipient to take part in a “secret shopping” project. Most often, the recipient is instructed to cash the check and return a portion of the money to an address listed in the correspondence.

“Any time you’re asked to spend money to get money, you should be suspicious,” McGrath said. “Once the money is wired to the scam artists, it’s gone. Consumers can’t get it back.”

The Office of Consumer Protection said the scam appears to target people who have listed items on Craigslist, a popular online classified ad site. To contact the Office of Consumer Protection, call (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500.

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