InvestSmart Montana Hotline Receives Report of an International Scam Involving Fraudulent Unclaimed Prize Awards                                             Contact:Lucas Hamilton

State Auditor John Morrison alerts Montanans to new fraud targeting the State


      Helena, Mont., Dec. 15, 2005 - State Auditor John Morrison warns consumers to keep a watch out for a new fraud. Montanans are receiving letters from an individual claiming to be a Promotions Manager for RBC Financial Group in Calgary, Alberta. The letters include a check in the amount of $3,500 drawn on a bogus bank account. The letter instructs the recipient to deposit the check, purchase a $3,500 money order and send the money order back to Canada in order to claim their winning prize money of $250,000. Upon receipt of the $3,500 money order, the Promotions Manager promises to release the $246,500.
      When the Department attempted to contact the "Promotions Manager" identified in the prize award letter, the man hung up the phone.
      "They weren't even willing to answer our questions." Morrison reported "The check is fake but the victim might not know it until they had already sent a money order. That's why we're trying to get the word out that this is a scam."
      RBC Financial Group is one of Canada's largest financial services companies, employing over 60,000 people and serving more than 14 million personal, business and public sector clients through offices in North America and 30 countries around the world.
      A Statement from RBC Financial Group said, "Please be advised that RBC Financial Group does not operate a Prize Locator International Awards Department or any awards-related businesses. We take fraud seriously and have a team of fraud experts dedicated to preventing, detecting and investigating fraud."
      "People know RBC and so they may think this letter is legitimate," warns Morrison "But that is just a scam artist tactic, consumers need to investigate before they send money."
      The fraud was discovered because a recipient of the bogus letter called the new InvestSmart Montana hotline. InvestSmart Montana is the Auditor's new investor education program. The Office received a grant from the national Investor Protection Trust to fund the program. InvestSmart Montana includes an interactive website, a toll-free number, a wide array of educational materials and also offers InvestSmart seminars across the state.
      "This Montanan thought there was something fishy going on and so they called the hotline to check it out." Morrison said, "That's why we have the InvestSmart program, to provide investors the knowledge and the tools that they need to protect themselves."
      To request InvestSmart Montana's informational packet, including the top ten questions to ask before you invest, or to inquire about an investment opportunity please call 1-800-603-6035. Information is also available at www.InvestSmartMT.org.
      People who have been contacted by the RBC Prize Awards Department or may have information concerning this entity are urged to contact the Investigations Unit at the State Auditor's Office at 1-800-332-6148.