FONDA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office wants to make local residents aware of a fake check scam that is going around. Police say scam artists are sending out real-looking checks in an attempt to get you to send money.

Credit: Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office

According to police, scam artists are sending an official-looking letter claiming to award you a sweepstakes prize. The letter may illegally use the name of a well-known company like Publishers Clearing House or a sound-alike name in an attempt to build trust. None of the letters are affiliated with any of the companies they are impersonating.

The letter has a real-looking check that may appear legitimate but isn’t, the check is fake.

Even though the check is not real, your bank can still be fooled. If you deposit the check the money may be available to you for a short time. Under federal law, banks usually make the funds you deposit available within one to five days.

It can take weeks for the forgery to be discovered and the check to bounce. In the meantime before your check bounces, scammers will ask you to send them money.

Legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to send money to enter sweepstakes. It takes no payment to claim a prize from Publishers Clearing House. There is no reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back.

If you are the victim of an impostor scam seeking money using the Publishers Clearing House name or logo, fill out a Scam Incident Report. Consumers are also advised to contact their local consumer protection officials or the National Fraud Center.