Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Checks Are in the Mail

In the last month, I've received four unsolicited checks in the mail. I didn't think much of it at first, thinking they were those "cash this check and we'll charge you 18% interest" deals.

The first one was a bit unusual, though, I have to admit. It appeared in what looked like a greeting card envelope, hand-addressed. (And no, it wasn't one of those mass mailings that uses a handwriting font to spoof handwriting... it was written in ballpoint ink.)

Handwritten greeting card from SenecaOne
Inside was this handwritten note and this check for $100:

$100 check from SenecaOne
Weird, I thought. Maybe a topic for a blog post, so I set it aside.

$25,000 check from AmeriStar
A day or so later, this check for $25,000 appeared. Different lender.

$15,000 check from Pacific Capital
Then a few days after that, this one for $15,000. Yet another lender.

Finally, today, I received this, from Seneca One, the company that had sent the first check for $100. It also arrived in a greeting card envelope:

Three checks, one for $15,000, one for $7,500 and one blank, from SenecaOne
This time I finally read the offer, and saw that it claimed the loans would be at 0% APR. The small print, however, got me confused very fast. The first part of the mumbo-jumbo, labeled Representations and Warranties, started out like this:

I hereby represent and warrant that: (a) I am a recipient of a U.S. state lottery prize, a casino jackpot prize, a corporate game prize or similar prize or annuuity entitling me to annual or more frequent periodic payments...
What??! Do they think I won the lottery?

Expecting some kind of scam, I Googled all three company names and found no complaints about them. So I called Seneca One to ask what the heck this is about.

It turns out, the names of winners of lotteries, jackpots and other prizes are all public. Usually, the home state is also known. But their addresses are not public, so companies like Seneca One, AmeriStar and Pacific Capital send out mailings to everyone in the same state who has the same name, hoping to find the lucky winners and help them out by advancing money on their winnings.

I have a pretty common name, so I guess this means that somewhere in Minnesota a member of my name-tribe has won a bucket of cash. Go team!

I got myself taken off the Seneca One list after a polite conversation with a service rep. He made it clear that it wasn't a ploy to rope me into a high-interest loan -- if I haven't won the lottery, they don't want to lend me money at any rate.

I wonder how many other inappropriate offers I'll get before the other companies tire of sending them?


Linda Myers said...

Good researching! I hadn't heard about this one.

jpc1012 said...

Did the checks ever stop? SenecaOne has about 5 company names they mail out from - LumpSum Capital, Pacific Capital, SenecaOne, AmeriStar, etc... They figure that way they can mail more often and hopefully someone will respond when they're short of cash and not gettin their lottery annuity check for another couple of months.

Daughter Number Three said...

They continued for a while after this. I haven't seen one in a year or so, I think.

Lynn Shumard said...

They took a lot of money from my son who got on drugs real.bad and took all his money and had his sign papers while he was high or drunk.don't trust them.ever . Thanks god my son is good now married with a baby but thanks to this company all his money is gone .:(

Justin M said...

Do not use this company They are liars and they will make empty promises. I signed all the contracts And had to notarize so one week later I received A Advance check from them so I cashed four days later I received a call from the sheriffs Deputy. Stating I was being charged with check fraud and theft I explained to him I signed my contract what he said according to them this Company never heard of me. Or engagement doing business. But thank God I have all my contracts saved