Phony check scam prompts warnings

CLINTON — Consumers are being warned about a fake check scheme that can drain their bank accounts.

The warning comes from Connecticut Water, the state Department of Consumer Protection and AARP after a dozen people from Massachusetts to Arizona received phony Connecticut Water checks and contacted the company.

“Criminals frequently target vulnerable populations and, unfortunately, good laws cannot always stop the bad guys,” state AARP Director Nora Duncan said in the release.

The scam may work a few ways. In the scenario reported to Connecticut Water, someone posting a product or ad sends a cashier’s check, personal check or corporate check to the consumer to pay for a service. At the last minute, the “seller” contacts the consumer and asks for some of the money via wire after the check is deposited because they claim they sent a larger amount than needed, the release said.

Later, the check bounces, leaving the consumer liable for the entire amount. The scam also works when the consumer is selling an actual product and the scammer is the buyer who sends a payment that is over the agreed amount, it said.

“One person told us they responded to an ad to earn money for placing advertising for an energy drink on his car. The payment was a bogus check with Connecticut Water’s name on it,” Maureen Westbrook, Connecticut Water’s VP of customer and regulatory affairs, said in a press release. “Fortunately, the person was savvy enough to spot the fake and reported it to the company.”

Connecticut Water does not hire people for services on social media. Anyone who receives a check from the company that is not directly related to their water service account can assume it is bogus.

“Consumers need to be extra cautious when something sounds too good to be true,” said state Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “If you’re not expecting a check like this from a company, it’s almost always a scam. You should not attempt to deposit the check and should contact the company the check appears to be from. Consumers did the right thing in contacting Connecticut Water,” the release said.

According to the release, here’s how to avoid this type of scam:

• Know who you’re dealing with. In any transaction, independently confirm the buyer’s name, street address and telephone number.

• Don’t accept a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.

• Consider an alternative method of payment. As a seller, you can suggest an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you’ve never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn’t one or if you call and can’t get answers about the service’s reliability, don’t use the service. To learn more about escrow services and online payment systems, visit

• If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where it was purchased and ask if the check is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an internet site that you know and trust, not from the person who gave you the check.

• Never wire money or pay in any untraceable form. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by Western Union or a similar company. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.

• Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears the issuing bank.

AARP Connecticut has advocated for consumer protections in the utilities industry for years.

“AARP’s Fraud Watch Network volunteers incorporate warnings of these types of scams into their community presentations to help raise awareness and decrease vulnerabilities,” Duncan said.

Anyone with any doubts about the legitimacy of a check issued by Connecticut Water can call the Customer Service Department at 800-286-5700 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays.


Trump has no clue

what country needs

Donald Trump attended a fundraiser for his 2020 re-election. People paid $35,000 per couple to attend this event at Le Cirque in NYC. How can he and those in attendance justify such a thing when he has not even visited Puerto Rico? The money could have been donated to hurricane victims and other causes. It never ceases to amaze me that Trump and people like him can close their eyes and ears to people in need. The rich get richer because they are only concerned with themselves. Wake up America, we elected an egomaniac who tweets all day, but has no clue about what is needed in our country and other countries’ needs.

Monique Osborn


I found the article “Global wake-up call” by Randall Beach concerning Leo DiCaprio and John Kerry’s visit to Yale, to enlighten the audience on the perils of climate change, reeking of hypocrisy. Their celebrity certainly allowed them a grand pulpit from which to express their views but why should I care? NOTE: I am sure DiCaprio flew into New Haven in a private jet that burned tons of fuel transporting him from Los Angeles. The SUV that picked him up was made of tons of steel, rubber and leather. He was probably wearing a fine Italian suit, wore a golden Swiss watch and dined somewhere on expensive Kobe beef from Japan. When he left town, his fuel guzzling airplane brought him back to his enormous home in the Hollywood Hills where he kissed the expensive toys in his garage before retiring for the night. Maybe Kerry drove down from his home in Massachusetts but for sure he can give DiCaprio a run for his money as a consumer as well. I wonder how much fuel was burned and greenhouse gas was created over many decades building his wife’s vast Heinz family fortune.

Both men are considerable consumers of petroleum, timber, steel, glass, rubber, plastic, food and numerous other natural resources. It’s pathetic that they would lecture the audience that we have a problem here on Earth earth caused by human activity and especially by burning fossil fuels when their ilk are the biggest consumers of the very things burning fossil fuels for energy helps to create.

Perhaps these men should lead by example and give up all the trappings our society has created for their use and vow a life of poverty as a personal example and sacrifice against our fuel burning industrial society. Maybe then I might actually care what either has to say about climate change. Until then, its merely hypocrisy on a grand scale.

Jeff Tomei


We were enjoying lunch at the Milford pier when an osprey got caught in a fisherman’s line. He hauled the bird onto the pier and cut the line. Unfortunately, the bird was injured and couldn’t fly. The man, and his friends, did nothing. I got a call into the DEEP and waited over an hour with the poor thing until help arrived. The man had the audacity to blame the bird. His indifference to the poor bird’s plight was deplorable. I counted four ospreys hunting for food and he continued casting his line after the incident.

I propose the city of Milford ban fishing from this pier. There are boaters, kayakers and paddle boarders in the water, as well as pedestrians and bikers enjoying the pier. In addition, the constant activity of ducks, geese, swans, egrets, cormorants and osprey. The fishermen pose a threat to both the people and the wildlife. Let them to go a less congested area to fish.

The victim suffered a “severe laceration” of the left wing. He was operated on, and is recovering at Wildlife in Crisis in Weston. He may, or may not, fly again. Ospreys are protected by federal and state laws, so intentionally harming them subjects you to heavy fines. I’m not sure what the fine is for stupidity and ignorance.

Theresa Champagne


Erin Pinsince is running for Board of Education and that’s a great thing for Milford and our students.

Erin was my student when I was a teacher at Law.

Although she herself was a high achiever, she always engaged and supported those students who struggled. This is an earlier glimpse of her keen intelligence and her compassionate understanding of the educational process and its discrepancies.

I have spoken with Erin about her candidacy. As both a well-informed parent and educator, she understands what our schools and students need in regard to effective class sizes at all levels, high quality of instruction and resources, and a safe and orderly environment.

She is a high school science teacher who is clearly informed about preparation for today’s world of science and technology, college prep and experiential program offerings.

Erin believes in equity for all students in regard to course offerings, special needs services, work and sports programs and enrichment opportunities. She’s working hard behind the scenes to help maintain a budget that provides improved educational services despite the decrease in state aid.

My only regret is that I no longer live in the 3rd district, but I do encourage all of you who do to vote for Erin Pinsince for Board of Education. She is the best candidate for the position who will serve our students, our taxpayers and our schools most effectively.

Bruce Blake