Million-dollar mail scam claims ABC ties

CLAREMONT, Calif. A few viewers had contacted Eyewitness News saying they had copies of a letter stating they could win a lot of money. But officials say you shouldn't believe it.

Marlene Reed of Claremont got something in the mail the other day that caught her eye. It was a letter from soda company, Pepsi. When she looked inside, she saw it was not only from Pepsi but ABC television as well. It stated that she had won $1 million.

At first, Marlene thought the letter was legitimate because ABC once had a show called "Play for a Billion," but that was nearly five years ago.

"I think it was 2003 or 2004 that they actually did have such a show," said Marlene.

There was yet another surprise in the envelope.

"Enclosed in this envelope is a certified check to cover any outstanding fees that have not been paid by Pepsi Company directly," said Marlene. "And I looked at the check. And it's for $5,400."

The check that Marlene received appears to be legitimate and there are funds in the account associated with the check. But it is fraudulent. If she tried to cash it, the bank might have given her the money, but later on, they would ask for that money back and may prosecute her for trying to pass a bad check.

"I'd like to think that I wouldn't have cashed it, but I don't know," said Marlene.

Marlene tried calling the number in the letter, but never got through and decided it was all a scam. She was right. There is no TV show, no millions to be won and the check is worthless. In fact, ABC and Pepsi are investigating the scam.

ABC issued the following statement:
"ABC is aware that there is currently a mail fraud scam falsely using the ABC Television Network and PepsiCo names to solicit personal information from targeted individuals. The contents of this letter are completely false and are not endorsed by ABC."

"They don't want to work for their money. They want ours for free," said Marlene.

If you receive one of these letters, you are urged neither to respond nor to attempt to cash the fraudulent check.

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