What a fake lottery check cashing scam looks like

Fake check schemes, or advanced fee check cashing fraud, are one of the most common scams that criminals use to trick victims into giving away their hard-earned money. It's so popular that it was named the number one scam of 2009 by the National Consumers League.

The advance fee scam promises victims a larger winning for cashing a check and wiring a portion of it back, often to cover taxes on a fake lottery. When you read about this type of thing, it's easy to think that no one you know would fall for a scam like this. But when you see an authentic-looking check for close to $4,000, it's easy to understand why the trick works.

A friend recently received a letter informing him that he won $125,000 in the "Customer Compensation and Appreciation Bonanza" and had been advanced the cost of taxes plus an additional $1,000. To claim his winnings all he had to do was call a claim agent, wire $3,000 to a "Government tax agent" and wait for the money to come rolling in.

While the letter was full of tip-offs such as spelling errors, capitalization issues and a weird notice at the top claiming numerous financial services, the actual check was incredibly real looking; right down to a security image and perforated edge. One final glaring issue is the inclusion of three addresses and three businesses on the correspondence.

Here's a look at the check he received:

As well as the letter:

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