Mail scam that looks like the real thing targets late S.Paula woman

March 06, 2009
Santa Paula News

A mail scam that looks like the real thing was addressed to a late Santa Paula woman whose son is worried that other seniors are being targeted.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesA mail scam that looks like the real thing was addressed to a late Santa Paula woman whose son is worried that other seniors are being targeted. Ken Dronsky said he received the letter Monday purporting to be from Publishers Clearing House and containing a check for almost $6,000 addressed to his late mother Jeannette.The letter, according to Dronsky, is an “official looking paper” stating the contest is sponsored by Reader’s Digest and that it is formal notification “my mother won $1 million. They sent a check for $5,935” with the request that before Jeannette deposit the check she contact a contest representative by phone for further instructions. Dronsky said the initial payment was to cover outstanding fees charged for the receipt of the $1 million.For a few moments Dronsky thought the letter was genuine, but “Then my mind clicked... it’s a scam.” The letter, he added, “was postdated San Diego with a Canadian stamp. I did call the phone number on the letter,” but he has yet to receive a call back.Dronsky also called the Stockton-based bank listed on the check drawn on a petroleum business account. “It was a real bank,” which Dronsky first confirmed by obtaining the phone number from a 411 operator. And the account was also legitimate. When he called the bank and asked about the check, “They said I was the fifth person who reported one of these checks that day.”
Dronsky worries that his mother, who passed away in September, “might have been on a list” of vulnerable seniors often exploited by scammers. Since Dronsky and his wife have moved to his late mother’s house, they have experienced “constant phone calls” of dubious offers, “you name it,” ranging from car warranty opportunities to offers to lower her credit card interest rates.“All her cards,” said Dronsky, “were cancelled immediately” upon Jeannette’s death, but he believes “she got on some sort of a list. I have people call and say they’re ready to install the windows she ordered, just weird little things” that are a steady source of irritation and concern. “I just don’t want anybody to be a victim,” and Dronsky hopes his experience will help others avoid a scam.In an interview late last year, Santa Paula Police Detective Dan Kiernan said if a check such as the one received by Dronsky was cashed, not only would the winner be out the money they sent for fees, but they could also face a charge of bank fraud, as the routing number reflects the legitimate account of a person also being victimized. Kiernan warned that people be suspicious of such prize notifications, as well as any offer involving money that is too good to be true.The SPPD does not handle such cases, which often originate from outside the United States where different applicable laws make it hard, if not impossible, to prosecute. The Postal Inspector has jurisdiction over mail scams.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.