September 03, 2008

Analysis of a Postal Scam

We've all seen those spammish emails promising millions of dollars from a deposed Nigerian prince (or some other dubious source). Yesterday, I got a much more legitimate looking (but nevertheless equally criminal and spurious) letter via the U.S. Mail.

Starting with a sort of official letter, purportedly from Comcast Financial Services & Consultants, a division of Comcast LLC in Englewood, CO. I've won some money - $57,000 in fact. And they have been nice enough to enclose a check for $3988.95 to cover "...administrative taxes and Clearance fees...."

The way the scam works. I deposit the check into my account, and I am asked to wire (to some untraceable or temporary account, no doubt) some or all of the $3988.95 for these fees and taxes. A few days later, the check comes back as fraudulent, and I am out the money I wired off into the ether.....

How to know that this is a scam? Other than the obvious "you don't get something for nothing" princial.

* The letter was sent from Canada, not Colorado
* The phone number to call is 514-577-2407, a Canadian number
* The main Comcast HQ is at 188 Inverness Drive, not 183 Inverness Drive, although they seem to have some offices there.
* Both the letter and the check omitted the leading zero from my zip code (6106 vs. 06106) which is pretty much Database / Spreadsheet / Mail Merge 101 stuff that no legitimate organization would miss
* The check is written drawn on a Bank One account. Bank One was purchased by JP Morgan Chase in 2004 (I know, I lost about $10K of annual work in that buyout), and no longer operated under the Bank One name. Otherwise, the check looks very legit.
* The check uses the Comcast logo, but the letter does not.....corporations are pretty fussy about their branding and logo consistency

Anything else you want to know?

This piqued my attention only so far as it looked so legitimate that I wanted to dig a little to find the cracks. I wonder how many people will get taken in my this little scam. I dropped a note to the postal inspector, but I figure if I was out there googling some of the names and numbers in this little ruse, others would be was well.


Jude said...

Done my good deed for the day. Kimberley writes:

Thank you for the blog about the Comcast letter you recieved. I too received the same letter and check which really did look real, but I know there are so many scams out there so I googled it and came across your blog. I was just going to deposit the check and not call the number, as I figured if I deposited it but did not spend any of the money then my bank would let me know if it was fraudulant or not. But thanks to you I know to not even bother. Thanks again!!!

Laurelanne T. Davis said...

Thank You for this blog. I too recieved the same "scam" and thought it was right away. I googled it and found your blog. It confirmed my suspicions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your great research on this. I had to Google the "company name" (comcast financial services and consultants) to find this. Usually its really easy to google a scam. Whoever is behind this scam knows what they're doing.
-mike from cal

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your research, I would have been taken by the scam were it not for you!

Anonymous said...

Yes, our heavenly Father steps in right on time to protect his children because today someone was going to deposit the fake check for me, but God stepped in and helped me to find your blog, WOW, he's so Awesome!! Watch Out for the enemy/enemies, cuz he/they are so Busy, but God has the last SAY!!!
Give Thanks

Anonymous said...

My letter was just like yours but had Stubhub Inc on it. Same Teresa Robinson with the same phone number 514-577-2407. Alll the amounts and verbage was the same except expiration date 9/29

Anonymous said...

Got the same letter from Benefit Financial Services & Consultants, A Division of Benefit Concepts, Inc. and there is Teresa with the same phone number. The Canadian stamp on the envelope got me curious. Your blog really helped. I KNEW it was too good to be true and was planning on going to the bank and police department this morning but now I'll save the trip!