CREATED Jun. 14, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- No one is going to turn down free money. But that's exactly what one Valley woman did. She told Contact 13's Tricia Kean, when she got a big check in the mail, she knew it seemed too good to be true.
"I got it last week and for a moment you know, you wish it was true," said Sofia Urrieta.
Imagine getting this surprise, a check for almost $4,000. It came in the mail with a letter, telling Sofia she was the recipient of a $250,000 grant. But she said, she hadn't applied for any grant money.
"So I called them, and they told me it was a grant that I won for using my debit card," said Sofia.
Before getting the rest of the money, Sofia was told she had to pay some government taxes. $2,500 worth. "I wasn't sure. It looks so real. And all I had to do was deposit the check," said Sofia.
But it was the next part that really bothered her. She was told to visit any Western Union, and to wire the money. "It sounded kind of fishy," said Sofia.
She said she knew better, thanks to countless warnings from Contact 13, never to wire funds to someone you don't know. So Sofia emailed us for help. We contacted Bank of New York - Mellon, whose name is on the check. And sure enough, they told us it's a fake. Sofia said, as tempting as it can be to cash such a large check, she wants people to use common sense.
"Be careful and you know, call you guys. I know you guys get to the bottom of it," said Sofia.
Here's the Contact 13 bottom line: Beware of anyone you don't know asking you to wire money. It's virtually impossible to track where that money goes.
There's also typically an application process for getting a grant. And if you're approved, it's free, there aren't any taxes or fees involved. If you're the target of a grant scam, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.