Police warn Houlton residents on prize scam

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 16, 2008, at 7:26 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Police warned community members Tuesday to be on their guard after a resident reported a recent close call with a scam.

Police Chief Butch Asselin said a Houlton resident called police Sept. 9 to report that she had received a letter from Arista Financial Group Inc. in Toronto.

Asselin said the letter informed the woman she had won $40,000.

The letter included a check made out to the resident for $3,950.75, Asselin said. It was drawn on a Tim Hortons USA Inc. account at Huntington National Bank in Westerville, Ohio.

In the “notification” letter, the woman was told that in order to claim her “prize” she had to send Arista $2,950 to pay for taxes on the $40,000 she had “won.”

Asselin said the expectation was that the woman would deposit the full amount of the Tim Hortons check into a personal account and send Arista $2,950.

Instead, the woman contacted Tim Hortons in Ohio. A company representative informed her the check she received was stolen.

The victim then contacted Houlton police.

Asselin said that had the woman deposited the $3,950 check, not waited for the check to clear, and sent Arista the amount requested, she might have been held responsible and made to repay the bank for its loss.

Houlton residents are not the only people to be subjected to scams as of late.

Last week, Fort Kent Police Chief Kenneth Michaud said increasing numbers of residents had been contacting police about fraudulent checks and money orders received in their mail.

In Houlton, the chief urged people to “stay alert when receiving these offers.”

“If they sound too good to be true, then they probably are,” he said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/09/16/news/aroostook/police-warn-houlton-residents-on-prize-scam/ printed on July 29, 2014