ALBANY - A scam in which targets are told they've won thousands of dollars from a state lottery drawing is widespread, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warned Friday.
"This particular scam is especially shameful because it's occurring during the holiday season at a time when people can be particularly vulnerable," DiNapoli said, adding that people need to remember that what sounds too good to be true "all too often is."
"No legitimate check from the state of New York would ever be used as part of a mystery shopper program," he said.
In the scam, consumers are told they won hundreds of thousands of dollars from a USA Mega lottery drawing in August. A company using the name Alpha Financial Services of Canada in Nova Scotia claims it has been assigned to inform winners and pay them off.
Included in the letter to potential victims is a counterfeit New York State check for thousands of dollars.
The scam may play upon a service by the comptroller's office that tries to match unclaimed refunds and other state money to New Yorkers who might not know they were owed money.
The letter to consumers asks them to contact a claims agent to "activate" the check, allegedly to cover the recipient's tax liability for the prize. To activate the check, they have to send thousands of dollars of their own money to the agent.
New Yorkers who fear they are being targeted by scammers may call the comptroller's office at 888-OSC-4555.