Some scam artists are using a bad check to steal money from victims.
The check looks real, the bank will probably cash it, but it is not what it appears to be. In fact the check for $3,960.20 is part of an elaborate hoax coming from scam artists hiding across the border.
Mike Rex from Point Loma was nearly a victim.
"Got all excited and thought I wow, I hit the jackpot," said Rex.
The check came with a letter with a Canadian check and postmark. It said that Mike had won the $350,000 All American Direct Lottery Sweepstakes based in London, England.
The letter said Mike should cash the check and send $2,950 back to the lottery to pay for handling, shipping, insurance and taxes. But while that seemed strange to Mike Rex it still was a temptation.
"It looks like money for free," said Rex, "And in a tight economy, who wouldn't want four grand."
But Sheryl Bilbrey says that check is a window into your bank account.
"They're looking for you to cash the check and wire the money to another location," said Bilbrey.
But once that money is gone there is no way to get it back, even if that check turns out to be bogus. Once the check bounces, the bank will ask for its money back, whether you still have it or not.
"Unfortunately people don't find out until several days after they have deposited the check," said Bilbrey.
Most of the time the money is sent outside the United States, impossible to retrieve. Mike Rex says he is glad he didn't fall for it, but worries about others who might get the same letter and check.
"Oh I'd be miserable, that would really hurt my retirement," said Rex.