ROSENDALE ENCOURAGES MONTANANS TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT AFTER BOZEMAN INCIDENT
HELENA, Mont. – State Auditor Matt Rosendale is warning Montanans to watch out for a scam that is using fake documents mimicking official State Auditor legal agreements, including Rosendale’s signature and the name and email of a State Auditor attorney.
The State Auditor’s office became aware of the scam this morning when a general contractor working in Big Sky contacted the attorney whose name and email appeared on fake documents sent to one of her employees.
The scam encouraged the victim to send $7,000 to the perpetrator in order to receive $70,000 from a fake “insurance lottery.” The scam targeted a worker looking for housing in the Bozeman area, promising money that would help secure a better living situation for the victim.
The scammer identified his or herself as attorney “Benjamin A. Vines” with the fake law firm “Benjamin Law Firm LLC” and sent fake documents using real logos, signatures, and email addresses of the Montana Insurance Commissioner’s office, Liberty Mutual Insurance company, and the American Rental Association.
Rosendale is warning all Montanans to be on the lookout, as it’s likely the scammer is targeting multiple people with the same or similar documents, which could include people living in areas other than Bozeman. Rosendale cautions that the exact documents, names, and other details may be different as the perpetrator targets additional victims.
“When someone you don’t know calls or emails you and promises to send you money in exchange for you sending them some smaller amount of money, that should be an immediate red flag that it’s a scam,” Rosendale said. “As a general rule, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do not send a stranger money in order to collect any sort of promised lottery prize, insurance payout, inheritance, or other thing of value.”
The sophisticated scam is using a mock legal settlement agreement that mimics publicly-available documents located on the State Auditor’s website, including the name and email address of a State Auditor attorney. It also includes a document promising a “lottery cash prize of $70,000.00 USD” featuring the logos of the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, the American Rental Association, Liberty Mutual Insurance, the State Seal of Montana, and Rosendale’s signature.
The contractor whose employee was targeted also contacted the Bozeman Police Department, and the State Auditor’s office is working jointly with the Montana Department of Justice to investigate and address the scam.
Copies of the fraudulent documents (with redactions and watermarks added by Kyle Schmauch) are below: