Teenager catches sweepstakes mail scam

NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA - August 30, 2010 "I got really excited because I didn't know what was it."

Keyla Pinto had good reason to be excited after all, not many 13-year-olds have ever seen the kind of cash that found its way into her fingers.

"And I got home and my mom told me I got a check for $3,000."

The check was actually for $3,850.64. The check, made out in her name, claimed to be from the MetLife Insurance Company of Connecticut. The check, so the enclosed letter explained, was the first payment of what was to be Keyla's $285,000 sweepstakes prize. But Keyla, so it seems, was well aware that when something appears too good to be true it probably isn't true.

"It said that I still had to pay the tax, so I knew that wasn't real, 'cause if that was real, the U.S. would have taken the tax away from the money."

The notice said Keyla would be able to claim the whole prize only after she deposited the check, and paid the tax of $2,850 and mailed it off to her so-called tax agent, whose name and address were conveniently provided.

The teenager smelled a scam, and bee-lined straight to the bank, where a family friend substantiated her suspicions.

"And if I cashed it at the bank, the bank would have given me the money, and I would have wasted it on things I really wanted. But then if I wasted, the bank would have asked for the money back, and I wouldn't have it."

Leaving this little girl in a very big hole, but Keyla was too smart to be scammed and wanted to share the lesson she had somehow already learned.

"Just for people to be alert," she said. "It's really cruel because you get really happy when you know you're getting that money, but it's not true and then you get really sad."

This type of scam is quite common; it's called the sweepstakes scam. And the bottom line is this, you should never be asked to pay to collect a prize. If you are the so called sweepstakes is a scam. Report it to the Attorney General's Office, and throw it away.

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