MMG targeted by fake check scam

17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Maine Mutual Group, as well as residents in California, Florida, New York and Alabama, have been the victims of a check scam.
“It’s one of those check scams that send you money, and if you wire money out of your account to somewhere else, you’ll get a bigger check,” said Larry Shaw, president and chief executive officer of MMG. “In this case, someone got a hold of one of our claims checks and recreated it to look real, and sent it out on some sort of a mailing list … not one associated with our company.
    “The scam was, ‘Here’s $3,000 made out in their name, and if you cash the check, and out of your account wire us or send us a check of $3,000, we will send you $47,000 back,’” said Shaw. “It tells them they won a sweepstakes of $50,000 and the $3,000 was to cover administrative fees.”
The company was first notified of the scam May 21.
“Somebody had gotten one of the checks in the mail, and called our company to see if it was real,” said Shaw. “Fortunately, we have some heads-up employees who got involved in it very quickly, told the people that it wasn’t real, and we moved to work with our bank and stopped payment on those checks. We ended up closing the claims checking account last Wednesday.”
Shaw said he’s only heard of one person in Aroostook County to receive a check.
This is the first time that MMG has been targeted by such a scam.
“None of these checks got through, so there’s been no cost to the company other than time,” said Shaw. “Unfortunately, we know of only one person who wired the $3,000, so they lost that money. A good rule of thumb is, ‘If something looks too good to be true, it usually is,’ and this proves it.”
MMG has involved the Presque Isle Police Department, as well as the Maine office of the Secret Service.
“When people call and ask, we’re encouraging them to involve their local law enforcement authorities, as well,” said Shaw. “We believe we’ve pretty much got our financial interest protected by closing the account. We’ve also put a notification on our Web site, and are trying to educate as many people as we can through the media.”
Shaw said it’s unfortunate the company was taken advantage of, but does not view it as black eye to the organization.
“I don’t see this impacting us at all,” he said. “This kind of scam could happen to anyone, and it looks like the claims check was stolen in the first place. We’re trying to handle it in the most professional way, and hope that as few people can be harmed as possible in this whole episode.”
Though unsure where the scam originated, Shaw said, “all indications seem to point to Canada.”
“Many of the requested phone calls or wires asking for the money goes back into Canada,” he said, “plus we don’t have business ties there. MMG works with people in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania.”
The company president said it’s important for customers to note that confidential information was not breached because of the scam.
“In no way was any of our information breached,” said Shaw. “We’ve tested all of our systems to see if there was a breach in confidential information, and absolutely none of this has come from within, or a breach within our system. It wasn’t somebody getting into our database and stealing client information.”
Shaw said anyone who may receive the scam mail is asked to destroy the document and notify the authorities.
For more information, log onto the company’s Web site at www.mmgins.com.