Aflac, an insurance company perhaps best known for its duck advertising mascot, is warning consumers its name has misappropriated by scammers.
"It has been reported that Aflac's name is being used in a fraudulent financial scam," the company said in a statement. "This scam involves checks bearing the Aflac name and brand, leading consumers to believe they have won a sweepstakes."
Here's how the way the sweepstakes scam works. A victim is contacted by phone or letter and told they have won a sweepstakes. They receive a check - perhaps for about $3,000 - and are told it is for use in payment of either taxes or a "processing fee."
The money, of course, needs to be sent to the scammer but to do that, the victim first has to deposit the fake check in their checking account, then wire money back to the scammer.
By the time the bank discovers the check is bogus, the victim has already sent the cash. They then have to pay the bank back using their own money.
Scammers are apparently turning out counterfeit Aflac checks because they seem more credible. A bank, for example, might not question a customer depositing a hefty check from an insurance company.
"We urge consumers to disregard any letter or check that suggests a promotional reward bearing the Aflac name - the letter and the check are bogus, and the check will not be honored by any financial institution," Aflac said.
The company further points out that it would never require policyholders to wire funds prior to obtaining legitimate claims payments.
Aflac said it has been in contact with the FBI, the United States Secret Service and the Better Business Bureau regarding this scam.