New money scam hits area

Published 1:13 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By By Adrienne McKenzie – special to the Standard
If Beverly Johnson had not followed her instinct when she opened her mail Monday, she could have been the victim of a Starmark Financial Inc. scam.
Johnson, an Atmore resident, received a $4,890 check in the mail accompanied with a letter from a Canadian company stating she was the winner of $250,000 in U.S. dollars. Her doubts about the prize were confirmed when she researched Starmark Financial Inc. on the Internet to find several accounts of the company attempting to carry on a scam.
Johnson wanted to spread the news of the scam to Atmore area residents to warn them.
The $4,890 check was written from People's United Bank out of Bridgeport, Conn. Johnson said she took the check to Regions Bank in Atmore and the clerk said they had other individuals bring in similar checks, but they are not all from the same bank.
The letter Johnson received with the check was written by Starmark Financial Inc., an international claim department in Ontario, Canada.
The letter states that Johnson is one of the declared winners of the Shoppers Sweepstakes held on Jan. 5.
Please note that all the participants were selected through a random computer ballot system drawn from over 50,000 names.”
The check Johnson received was meant to cover taxes on the winnings, the letter states.
The letter states that the tax amount is $2,985 U.S. dollars, which should be paid by MoneyGram or Western Union.
Johnson said she hopes Atmore area residents will be careful when opening their mail in order to avoid being ripped off.