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American National Warns of Increased Reports of Lottery Scam

3/29/2016

CONTACT: Allison Moore, Marketing & Communications 
434.773.2311 | moorea@amnb.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  March 29, 2016 

DANVILLE, VA – American National Bank and Trust Company is urging residents to be on the lookout for solicitation scams promising instant wealth and grand prize earnings. The Bank has received increasing numbers of calls and questions from consumers who have encountered these scams, and offers five ways for the public to avoid becoming a victim.

Commonly referred to as the "advance fee," "lottery" or "sweepstake" scam, the ploy involves fraudsters issuing counterfeit checks and fake award letters to consumers who have allegedly won a lottery or sweepstake raffle. The consumer, who most likely never entered the alleged drawing, is issued a check worth more than the amount owed and instructed to pay taxes and fees before receiving their lump sum payment. Unfortunately, the check – in addition to the raffle – is bogus. Consumers lost more than $8 million in 2014 as a result of these fraudulent scams, according to the FBI.

"Consumers fall victim to lottery and sweepstake scams at alarming rates," said Jeffrey V. Haley, President and Chief Executive Officer of American National Bank and Trust Company. "It’s extremely important for them to recognize the red flags associated with this type of fraud before they deposit any check they weren’t expecting or send money to an unknown recipient by check or electronic wire."

Before you participate in any lottery or sweepstake, American National encourages you to keep these tips in mind:

1. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the check. Scam artists are using sophisticated technology to create counterfeit checks that mirror the appearance of legitimate checks. Some are counterfeit money orders, some are phony cashier’s checks and others look like they are from legitimate business accounts. The companies whose names appear may be real, but someone has dummied up the checks without their knowledge.

2. Never ‘pay to play.’ There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back or send you more than the exact amount – that’s a red flag that it’s a scam. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier’s check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a local branch.

3. Verify the requestor before you wire or issue a check. It is important to know who you are sending money to before you send it. Just because someone contacted you doesn’t mean they are a trusted source.

4. Ensure a check has "cleared" for safest measures. Under federal law, banks must make deposited funds available quickly, but just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good, even if it’s a cashier’s check or money order. Be sure to ask if the check has cleared, not merely if the funds are available before you decide to spend the money.

5. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. Bank staff are experts in spotting fraudulent checks. If you think someone is trying to pull a fake check scam, don’t deposit it—report it. Contact your local bank or the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center, fraud.org.

For more information about fake check scams and how you can avoid them, go to fakechecks.org.

About American National

American National Bankshares Inc. is a multi-state bank holding company with total assets of approximately $1.5 billion. Headquartered in Danville, Va., American National is the parent company of American National Bank and Trust Company. American National Bank is a community bank serving Virginia and North Carolina with 25 banking offices and two loan production offices. American National Bank and Trust Company also manages an additional $749 million of trust, investment and brokerage assets in its Trust and Investment Services Division. Additional information about the company and the bank is available on the bank's website at www.amnb.com.

Shares of American National are traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "AMNB."

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