Mail scam warning: 'Nobody gives away free money, ever'

Mail scam warning: 'Nobody gives away free money, ever'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A woman who received a check scam in the mail reached out to Eyewitness News this week to inform the public of this potential trick.

Patricia Witcher received a $4,200 check in the mail last week from a company called First Security Financial Services Inc. to cover the tax expense of an alleged $50,000 jackpot.

"I was thinking, 'Wow,'" Witcher said. "But my immediate reaction was something's up."

Witcher then contacted Eyewitness News, which called the alleged scammer, who denied all fraud accusations.

Carina Ortiz, community relations specialist for the Bakersfield Police Department, said she's surprised to see a mail scam in the "day-and-age" of the Internet.

"Surprising to see that these scams are still out there," Ortiz said. "They're scams. Nobody gives away free money, ever."

Each year, Americans lose more than $535 million to scams, according to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center. The average loss to a scam is $600.

Witcher said she was able to figure out the fake check quickly, but worries many others aren't so lucky.

"Especially elderly people, you know, they get something like this and then they deposit it and start spending it, and first thing you know, their life savings are gone," Witcher said. "I've seen stories like that before and it's really very upsetting."