Scam Alert: TaxFree Shopping, Ltd Prize Winning

Oct 14, 2009 by     31 Comments    Posted under: Culture, Economy



Please note: TaxFree Shopping, Ltd. is a valid business that has been victimized in this scam.

TaxFree Shopping Ltd Addison Texas Prize Winning Payout scamIf it looks too good to be true…

Just after I wrote about Jeff Kreisler’s book Get Rich Cheating, I received a piece of air mail yesterday telling me I had won a bunch of money.  Supposedly it came from TaxFree Shopping, Ltd. based in Addison, Texas.  Everything about it screamed SCAM!

First, it told me that I had won $150,000 in a “Consumer Promotion Draw organized for all customers of the major stores in U.S.A., Canada and United Kingdom e.g.: Wal-Mart, Sears, Home Depot, Safeway, H.E.B., Sainsbury, Dell, HP, Dillard’s, Teco [probably meant TaxFree Shopping, Ltd. is a Better Business Bureau A+ accredited company.  The problem: the check was no good.

Tax free shopping ltd 1I went to a Chase bank this morning knowing full well what to expect: nothing.  I brought with it the letter and envelope.  At first, the teller was unhelpful when I asked.

“We can’t give out that information, sir,” she said.

“You can’t tell me if the check is good?  It’s drawn off your bank.”

“No, sir, we can’t give out that information.”

“Okay, then let me cash it.”

“It’s over the amount we are allowed to cash.”

“Please get your manager.  I’d rather you tell me that the check is not good then for me to try to cash it at my bank and get the bounced check fee.”

The bank manager was more helpful (why do these things always have to come down to ‘let me speak to your manager’…sigh)  The manager confirmed that the check was fake, and that they had seen this before.

How the scam works

Apparently, the scam works this way:  Doofus gets a check and instead of investigating it on their own, calls the numbers listed for TaxFree Shopping, Ltd. (on the letter it says to call Richard Patton “for advice on how to claim your winning” and gives the telephone numbers 1-866-213-8778 or 1-866-213-5993).  Doofus wires the $2950.00 and instead of being richer, now is out $2950.00 and additional bounced check fees.

It’s hard to imagine anyone falling for this because it is so easy to discover, but I guess there’s a sucker born every minute.  The seemingly live check signed by hand on a major bank was enough to have me take ten minutes out of my morning to investigate.

What perplexed me was my own thinking.  I had recently bought a 23 inch HP flat screen monitor, and wondered if I had filled out on-the-fly some sweepstakes (I don’t usually, but sometimes I do).  Regardless, my brain told me the $150,000.00 was a scam, but here I had a check in my hand for $3,800.  If the $3800 was valid, I might have followed-up about the $150K (which the letter, dated September 18th, had told me was not good after 20 days.  Somehow it took this letter 20 days to get to my mailbox).

Chase bank confiscated the phony check, and my slight notions of a possible Spanish vacation evaporated as I left the bank and thanked the manager for her help.

TaxFree Shopping, Ltd. is a victim

I spoke with Ben Petty, the managing partner of TFS, Ltd., and he confirmed that this has been going on for awhile.  Apparently some guy up in Massachusetts was taken for about $10,000.  The perpetrators are out of–surprise!–Nigeria and the Secret Service is not able to do anything about it.

They are actually using the real account information for this company, and it has caused havoc for its business.  The check that I received is the fourth generation of the scam.  The Nigerians are hiring people through Craigslist looking for “check processors”, and then they tell them to go to Office Depot and buy check-writing supplies and check-printing software.  Some people actually do it.

Mr. Petty has been fielding many phone calls from distraught and disappointed senior citizens.

Don’t work for this scam.  Don’t cash the check.  Don’t call the number.  Don’t send the money,  or you will end up a fool.



31 Comments + Add Comment

  • Wow, that’s one of the prettiest scams I’ve seen… The hand-signed checked is a winner…

    • Those Nigerians are getting more and more clever… They must have run out of princes!

    • From: Trace Blasier
      Date: Tue, May 18, 2010 at 7:24 AM
      Subject: Payment Update…
      To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

      Good morning,

      I want to inform you that the check will arrive this morning via UPS delivery service. Once you receive the check please cashed it at your bank instantly or you will be ask to deposit the check for 24 hours and come back for the cash the next day, and then you can deduct the money for your item plus extra $20 for your running around expenses and you are to wire the remaining funds to my Mover via Western Union Transfer. This fund will be use in off setting the cost of the shipment that as undertaken for me recently and they will be needing a part of that to come over to your place for the pick up.

      Below is my mover payment department to wire the remaining balance to via western union transfer…

      Mary Drummond
      101 Atlas Crossings Rd
      Waynesburg, PA 15370

      Note: that the western union transfer fee should be deducted from the remaining balance.

      As soon as you have fund send out via western union transfer, kindly get back to me with the western union transfer details on the transfer receipt as below so that my mover can schedule for the pickup of my item..

      1}.Sender’s name and address
      2}.MTCN numbers {10 digits}
      3}.Amount sent after deducting the transfer fee.
      4}.The exact time that you will be available for my mover to come for the pickup of my item at your place.

      Please let me know at once if i can trust you to have the excess funds sent to my Mover because i have lots of goods to be picked up for me aside my transaction with you.I will be expecting your email with a confirmation on this issue at once

      Thanks.

  • I recv’d a check from Trinity Universal Insurance Company in Dallas Texas. It is the same information as the TaxFree Shopping. I called the 866 number on the letter and was told by a middle eastern male to go to my bank and deposit it and then call him back in the morning. I went to my bank and was immediatley told it was a scam. I googled the Trinity Universal Insurance Company and couldn’t find one with the address on the letterhead. My next step was going to a JP Morgan Chase Bank to try and cash it but I don’t have to now after reading the above THANK YOU SO MUCH. and I must agree that there is a sucker born every minute but NOT THIS SUCKER

  • they are still at it ;texas pioneer mutual insurance association 209 west main avenue round rock ,tx 78664-5827 is the adress on the check jp morgan chase bank round rock tx 78750 acct 0202132 111000614 880605369265 tax officer marie boston 56 oxford street wc 12 pd london united kingdom mr richard patton 18664077810 or18668830685 signed by lenox cole when i copied the check and letter with kodak photo printer the words void showed on the copy of the check THANK YOU KODAK NO SUCKER HERE EITHER

  • My mother got one of these letters today. It is a good thing she is smart and knew it was a scam right away.

  • They are now using LandAmerica Austin Title Company checks, awful situation for this company to be in. The new “tax Officer” is Sharon Norman, 56 Oxford Street, WC 12 PD London, United Kingdom. Claim Agent: Mr. Bryant Duran ph 866-399-6698 or 866-472-7542. Lenox Cole signed the letter but a different signature on the check, and yes a copy of the check reveals void across the front. thanks for this site.

  • Thanks everyone. I only wrote this post because when I Googled for information, I couldn’t find anything about the scam, so I think you all are helping other people by updating changes in the scam. It makes the scam Google-able; whereas when I looked for TaxFree Shopping, I only found it seemed like a legit business and not any evidence of the ruse.

  • I received the same letter. I filed a complaint with USPS Mail Fraud. My letter was from Texas Pioneer Insurance, which looks to be an actual company, but I don’t believe they are involved. I too received a hand written check. So real, that I thought it best to report it. I’m sure an elderly person might not be so quick to think fraud. Let’s hope they figure out a way to stop these crooks.

  • I received a check yesterday from Wachovia Bank with PENN state in the top left hand corner. The letter with it is from Tampa Green Consultants in Florida with no return address and a stamp and postmark from Canada. Check amount $3,980, tax amount on alleged $125,000 winnings $2980. Funny how the tax amount on my $125,000 is more than the tax amount on your alleged $150,000 winnings! Uncanny how real the check looks. The differences are that mine has a stamped signature, not hand-written, and the phone number is not 1-866, it has a 416 area code (Canada.) I’m tempted to call from a pay phone, just to see what they tell me my next step should be.

  • HOW IS THIS STILL GOING ON! WHERE IS OUR FBI! ITS MARCH 14 2010 AND I JUST RECEIVED THIS LETTER EXCEPT ON LETTERHEAD IT COMES FROM J.A. SULLIVAN 1499 BLAKE STREET DENVER,CO 80201-1358 BUT THE FORMAT IS IDENTICAL FROM THE ONE SHOWN ABOVE IM SURE THEIR SCAMMING ALOT OF PEOPLE STILL. PEOPLE WILL BELEIVE ANYTHING WITH THIER HOPE AND DESPARATION DUE TO OUR ECONOMY

  • I have gotten 2 letters…different companies, one was tax free shopping and one was CHESAPEAKE OPERATING, INC. pretty much the same check and letter just different company names. If I didn’t fall for it the first time then why do it the second time…lol

  • I just got the letter in the mail, and yes, the real check gave me considerable pause. I knew if I called the number they’d tell me to send the “taxes” in right away rather than allow me wait for the check to clear before sending most of the check back to them. It came from FARMER’S INSURANCE COMPANY. Apparently they’re running out of steam on making the checks look 100% official, because the farmers logo is obviously photocopied on, and it’s not a real signature. There were other red flags, like the fact that the envelope is nothing special, and in fact doesn’t even have a return address on it.

    But my favorite part was that I called the phone number, just to hear what they’d have to say when I told them I’d wait for the check to clear before sending them a dime…and I got a cell phone voicemail message. “You’ve reached (sound of scuffling)” BEEP.

    It actually gave me a bit of entertainment for the day.

  • Just got the newest version of this one today…..
    It’s from Tampa Green Consultants…
    found out it comes out of Canada…..

    • me too! when i called the number, the woman with the thick accent was obviously NOT Nicky Armstrong, lol, and she forwarded my call. i could tell my call was not a US call by the way the phone rang, and i came online to look for this scam. thanks, guys.

  • I have received a forged check drawn on a real co., Chesapeake Operating Co.,a mining Co. in OK, & drawn on the Bank of Oklahoma, for $ 3,100.00, saying I am a winner in the “Consumer Promotion Draw’, winning $100,000.00, and encouraging me to wire $ 2,850.00 to pay British ” Non-Resident Govt Tax, to a “Tax Officer”, Dora Nuss 14 Oxford St. WC 12 PD London, after discussions with Mr Jack Pals at 866 796 4700,OR 866-913-7331. The Literature lists Taxfree Shopping Industries ( featured on WEB as associated with other almost identical scams). The CON Letters are mailed in Germany as “Infobrief International” on Deutschen Post. Report to State AG.

  • Just got one today~ Customer Compensation and Appreciation Bonanza~ Check drawn on Electrical Power Products Inc ~Bank is: Bankers Trust of Des Moines IA~ Looks to me like the same deal ~ man I must be getting old ~ this S**T is usually targeted towards those not really used to the corruption of todays world~ will take it to my bank tomorrow and let them deal with it ~ thanks to all for confirming my suspicions ~ Caveat Emptor ~ warn your friends and family!!

  • Thank you for this information.

    Recently, it looks that they informs little and just send a check of $2950.

    They’ve sent me the check of $2950 with information that I have to contact them through paymentverificationdepartment@rocketmail.com. So, I sent the information with check number and ask them what it is about. They just sent me an email with typical copy&paste info by saying that I need to send money over WU or MG for secure transaction.

    I felt it’s scam, and googled, and found this blog. Thank you for sharing the info.

  • Variation on a theme. We have a rental cabin advertised on Craigslist. Overseas people want to rent it for their honeymoon. Company is paying for the rental as a wedding gift. Claims the company paid too much in their check to us as it included their travel expenses and can we please WU the excess back to them. Check is arriving three weeks late and it originated in Indianapolis.

    Return WU address is to the same Mary Drummond as above. It’s actually a packaging and postal store but in Uniontown, PA.

    I have contacted the FBI.

  • Received my letter today from Precision Holdings out of Dallas Tx. Check was for $3500 and tax payment was $2950. Claim agent was Jack Pals. Don’t fall for it!! Unbelievable how they get away with this. This reeks of a terrorist cell gathering money. FBI please do your job!!!

    • My elderly folks got one too from Precision Holdings. Check was also for $3500 and the so called tax officer was “Edith Hardy, 15 Oxford Street, WC 12 PD London, United Kingdom.” Scammers are apparently using the same Oxford Street, WC 12 PD London address (except for street #) if it is from the UK. The tel nos. this time are: 866-858-6022 or 866-835-0884.

      Before the letter, they originally called claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House and that my folks won $50,000, and insisted they were legit. They gave a claim # to my mom and said that my folks will get the money sent to them the next day, just wanted to verify the mailing address.

      On the next day, as expected, no one showed up but folks did get a call from someone claiming to be from the US Border Patrol in Dallas, TX. After hanging up on them, they sent the scam letter and check.

      I’m wondering where else we can expose this scam to so many more will know? I wonder if the FBI will do anything about this.

      Hope these scammers will be caught soon.

  • I just received a check from Tax Free LTD, with a lady claiming to need furniture purchased in Illinois while she is in canada. It promised a personal assistant position, but funny thing is I am in fl.

  • Still happening, I got a nice check, hand signed from a wells Fargo account. My friend and I called the bank to verify it. She said it was a real account but she also told me there was not enough in the account to cover it. It was allegedly from Cimarex Energy, which is rated A+ from the BBB. But the addresses did not match… I looked up the british tax address and this link came up. Thank you so much for makeing this site, the check was very convincing.

  • Thank you everyone for keeping this thread updated. I remember when I received the scam check I couldn’t find any information about it on-line, so I’m glad there’s a place for people to see the check is not worth their time.

  • I received a letter today from Landed Gentry Paymasters, Inc. with a $3,100.00 check from Strandbrg Construction, Inc. in Anacortes, WA. Looked two companies up and looked legit and then I happened onto this article. Thank you for the help.

  • Mine came from TaxFree Shopping Ltd. in Addison, TX. I was immediately suspicious because it came in a blank envelope inside a large flat mailer, and had no information. It was just a check for $2,875.00. Out of the blue. For no apparent reason. I had not shopped with them and was not expecting a refund of any sort. No one sends you money for nothing. Thanks for this site.

  • We got a cheque from T.F. Services for $1650….. looks like a real legitimate cheque, but the sentence reading: “Enclosed is a check of $1,650 deducted from your entire winning price. This check amount will pay for all processing fees and delivery charges” is what made us suspect a scam and then we found your website…..

  • I received a forged check in the amount of ~$192K from “Taxfree Shopping”. The bank was no help but I looked up the company on the ‘net and called their “real” number, and they were happy to inform me the check was forged.

    Another waste of time from a scammer. They are so annoying!

    –Chris

  • BE AWARE !

    Apparently these fraudulent checks coming from Tax Free Shopping have a new twist. I signed up as a Mystery Shopper through A & A Marketing in Toronto, Ontario Canada and after saying I would accept assignments received a check for $1,490.00 draw supposedly on JPMorganChase. The best and easiest first step to take is looking at the 9 digit routing number on the bottom left of the check. This one has 000065179, which is NOT a legitimate routing number. I am turning it over to the Postal Service since the check came by USPS Priority Mail and also notifying the FBI White Collar Crime Division because the check was sent across state lines, supposedly from Global Source, USA at 36 9th Street, Hicksville, NY 11801.

  • I received the same type of scam. Only I put it in my bank, withdrew the cash and the check from them bounced 4 days later. I never sent them any money of course. Long story short, I called the FBI since the state said it is a federal matter.
    And low and behold guess what…they told me I could go to jail for Bank Fraud for cashing the check, yet they wont go after the real person who made the check since they are Nigeria.
    I have since easily returned the money to the bank.
    I just thought it was a bunch of crap how they will come after the unsuspecting victim as a suspect since they can not get the nigerian.

  • well I now have over $600,000.00 in bogus checkes and money order sent to me, including, usps money orders, american express travlers checks, aaa travlers checks, wal mart money gramsa;bertsons money grams, safeway money grams, and checks from major companies such as bmg Columbia house, united air lines,and many bank certified checks. a good collection. and they just keep coming, another 5900 today. told the postal inspector and they wont do anything, not even take a look at the money orders

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