ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — This scam should be easy to sniff out: It depends on people believing government is giving them thousands of dollars.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warns the fraud is widespread.

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The scam tells consumers they won hundreds of thousands of dollars from a USA Mega lottery drawing in August. A company using the name Alpha Financial Services of Canada in Nova Scotia tells the would-be victims it has been assigned to inform winners and pay them off.

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Included in the letter to potential victims is a counterfeit New York state check for thousands of dollars and a message to contact a claims agent to “activate” the check.

The scam may play upon a service by the comptroller’s office that tries to match unclaimed funds to New Yorkers who might not know they’re owed money.

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