Swindle alert issued for Southwest

Crime-Prevention Specialist Jennifer Neale issued a crime alert in mid-March about three "theft by swindle" incidents in Southwest.

Neale said the thefts occur when residents receive a letter in the mail claiming they've won the large lottery; a small prize check is enclosed. The letter instructs recipients to first send money for "a processing fee."

Although the prize checks can initially be cashed, they later return bounced.

Neale wrote that in one case, a man received a $4,300 check and the money was credited to his account. He then called the senders and was told to send a $2,855 check for a "processing fee," which he did. His check was cashed, but the $4,300 "prize" eventually bounced.

Another victim sent $4,900 to the suspects, Neale said, because her prize check had cleared - only to bounce days later. A third victim thought she had won $8 million, but the bank clerk exposed the check as counterfeit, saving the woman from the swindle.

Neale warns residents to never send money to unknown persons who promise money in return. She added, "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!"

For more crime-prevention information, visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/outreach/.