Nov. 29, 2006                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

MORRISON WARNS OF SCAM TARGETING MONTANANS WITH FRAUDULENT UNCLAIMED PRIZE AWARDS


      Scammers are looking for your good money in exchange for their bad check
      Montana State Auditor John Morrison issued a warning today about a fraudulent unclaimed prize award scam targeting Montanans. The warning comes after the State Auditor’s Office received several consumer inquiries about letters that were sent to Montanans from the so-called Borealis Investments, Inc. These letters are being sent to individuals alleging they are winners of a “North America Prize Pool” held last month.
      "Helping Montanans protect their hard-earned savings is a job I take seriously," said Morrison. “We know that the best kind of law enforcement is to prevent the crime in the first place which is why we are constantly working to get the word out about the latest scams targeting the state. Helping Montanans steer clear of con artists is one of the most effective ways of helping them to protect their hard-earned cash.”
      Montanans are receiving letters from an individual claiming to be a financial director for Borealis Investments (a non-existent company), located in Antigo, Wisconsin. The letters include a very realistic, but fake check in the amount of $3,044 drawn on a bogus Citizens State Bank account in Clara City, Minnesota. The letter instructs recipients to call a toll-free phone number in order to receive assistance in obtaining their $750,000 cash prize. The Department has investigated this matter and discovered it is a scam. The perpetrator hopes individuals will deposit the check into their personal bank account, as instructed, and then send a cashier’s check or a money order to the scam artist. Montanans who participate in this scam will not only not win any money, they will lose the money they send because the check they deposit is worthless.
      The Department contacted the Citizens State Bank to determine if the check enclosed with the letter was legitimate. Citizens State Bank, and their rebate processor Financial Services Management Corp. informed the Department that the account number listed on the check did not exist.
      “Unfortunately these scams are quite prevalent. They are called check overpayment scams or fake check scams and they come in many different guises, including prize notifications,” said Morrison. “If someone you don’t know wants to give you a check but wants you to wire some of the money back, beware -- it’s a scam that could cost you thousands of dollars. Basically, scammers are looking for your good money in exchange for their bad check.”
      Morrison urges Montanans to check out the legitimacy of any offering before sending off their hard-earned cash. Contact the Securities Department of the Montana State Auditor’s Office to verify licensing of individuals and registration of investment offerings. If fraud or dishonest sales practices are suspected, Montanans are urged to report it. For more information or to contact the State Auditor’s Office, call 1-800-332-6148 or log onto www.sao.mt.gov.