My girlfriend received a letter today saying she was a winner in the "third category of Compensation Lottery Draw for Charity and Cancer Donors held on January 19th, 2009". It said an entry slip with her name was drawn and she was entitled the amount of $150, 000 USD, to be delivered via courier company.
Enclosed was a "check" in the amount of $4, 450 the letter claimed was deducted from her prize and to be used for a "tax payment" of $2, 900 USD to be sent to a tax officer identified in the letter as "Mrs. Cath Thomas". Listed for her was an address in the UK.
For a second we were both thrilled, if a little puzzled, though it didn't take long for the red flags to show up. First off, it name-dropped all kinds of actual companies: Hexter-Fair Title on the letter, JP Morgan Bank and Germania Insurance on the check. Well, the latter had an advisory on the mainpage of its website announcing a similar fraud. In addition, the letter (Royal Mail postage from the UK) had no return address, and the dates of the check and the letter were both listed as AFTER the mail date on the stamp. Germania's website advertised the check as bogus and advised people who received one to destroy it.
Lastly, a quick web search revealed several other instances, nearly identical, but with different company names and addresses (namely Canada).