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Deputies: ‘Don’t be suckered’ by lottery check scam

Once again, fake lottery letters with cashier’s checks have arrived in Shawnee mailboxes, prompting law enforcement officers to issue warnings to area residents. The most recent mailing comes from an address in London, England, with a claim that the person is the winner of the Australia Sweepstakes lottery. The Shawnee resident who received this mailing, along with what appears to be a real cashier’s check, became suspicious and turned over the items to the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Mike Booth said the letter and $4,995 check, are a scam and residents need to be aware of such cons to avoid becoming victims.
“If it looks too good to be true, it is,” Booth said. It’s a scam, no matter how good it looks.” The letterhead shows Featureview Trust Inc., and includes the Shawnee man’s name and his address where it was mailed, and claims to be from the International Claims Department in London, England. The letter claims the resident has won $250,000 through a random computer ballot system drawn from shopper names.
The letter shows the check for $4,995 is to help pay government taxes and insurance on the winnings and claims to be a payment from a claims agent.

It asks the winner not to use the check until they call a 15-digit phone number, where police said those answering work to get personal information from the caller. The fake check, with the somewhat blurry logo of well-known U.S. bank, claims to be drafted from an account in Phoenix, Ariz. “No matter how real it looks, it’s not going to get you anything,” Booth said about that check, advising residents not to cash it or give any personal information to anyone. “From that point on, you have everything to lose,” the sheriff added. Booth said residents should be suspicious if they get anything by mail such as this, especially if they have no direct knowledge of it. “Anyone with questions can bring it to their local law enforcement office,” Booth said, adding, “Don’t be suckered.”

Shawnee police issued a similar warning back in December for mailings that included similar letters for a shoppers lottery scam.
“Don’t cash the check … do not call and give them any information,” Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz said. Frantz said the scam works to get someone’s bank account number, either by phone or when cashing the fake check. That enables the suspects to clean out someone’s bank account before they realize the check to pay the “fees” is a fake and has bounced. “Citizens beware,” Frantz said.

2009 Shop with a Cop!

It doesn’t take 9-year-old Preston Gunter long to shop. Just a few minutes after he headed into the wilds of Wal-Mart during Sunday’s Shop with a Cop, he was standing in the checkout line with Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Troy Thompson, his shopping buddy. In his cart: an Indiana Jones video game, a Bakugan game and a large bag of Butterfingers. There was one problem. He hadn’t spent enough — there was money remaining on his gift card. So, off he went again with Trooper Thompson, quickly returning with a case for the Bakugan game. “He knew what he wanted and he knew right where to go,” Thompson said. “There were only three of the games, so he was glad he got to be one of the first to go.”
For his part, Preston didn’t say much, but his frequent smiles spoke volumes. He was one of 97 children taking part in Leadership Shawnee’s Shop with a Cop. The Shawnee Chamber of Commerce annually sponsors Leadership Shawnee and requires each class to have a project. This year’s class decided to organize Shop with a Cop and raised $7,500 to buy $75 gift cards for 92 children and presents for five of their siblings who were younger than 18 months. The 92 older children were paired up with a local enforcement officer as a shopping partner. For about two hours, the area just south of Wal-Mart’s book section was packed with children, their parents, cops and Leadership Shawnee class members. Everyone involved genuinely seemed to enjoy the experience. “All the policemen are smiling and all the kids are smiling,” said Felicia Freeman, one of the Leadership Shawnee class members. “It feels good just knowing that we helped make the kids have a good Christmas.” A total of 39 officers from the Shawnee, McLoud and Tecumseh police departments, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the Absentee Shawnee Nation volunteered to help the youngsters shop. Dan Shumaker of the Shawnee Police Department said he was glad he had the opportunity to participate. His first shopping partner was a girl who bought clothes. “Her father thanked me over and over and over,” Shumaker said. “With the economy being the way it is, this is perfect timing. You could see in her face that it made a difference.” Wal-Mart supplied cookies and Hawaiian Punch for the shoppers, their parents and the cops. Brenda Burkey, a department manager, came in on her day off to run a register at a line dedicated for Shop with a Cop sales only. “I’m a sucker for the kids,” she said. “You could see their eyes light up. It was just magic.”
For some shoppers, particularly the older ones, it went fast indeed. Some of the younger ones took a more leisurely pace, savoring the moment and the company of the cop. And the program had an unintended benefit for one person not involved in Shop with a Cop. A lady went to the check-in table to sternly ask how long the policemen would be tied up at the store. When told about another hour and a half, she brightened.
“That’s great — I’m going to speed on my way home.” Despite the potential for abetting in the violation of speed laws, members have discussed continuing Shop with a Cop next year and making it annual event.

Police officer awards

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, several area police officers were honored for the excellence in report writing and investigation into domestic violence cases. Officers honored during the Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign hosted by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Family Violence Prevention Program and the Pottawatomie District Attorney’s Office were: Detective Lee Minick, Sgt. Jody Opela, Officer Daniel LeClaire and Investigator LaTrenda Sanders, all from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal police; Sgt. Tim Boyd from McLoud Police Department; Deputy Scott Hawkins and Deputy Amanda Myrko from the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office; Patrol Officer Kevin Hughey, Cpl. Kim Dibble and Cpl. Shawn Parsons from Shawnee Police Department; Officer Brandi Carnell from Tecumseh Police Department; as well as two officers from Lincoln County.