Convincing scam delivered to Montgomery County mailboxes

WASHINGTON — Maryland officials are asking Montgomery County homeowners to check their mail piles. They say a letter sent last month, which looks official, is actually a scam.

The state flag is the first thing homeowners saw when they opened the letter, which appears to be from the Maryland Property Review Board.

“There’s no question about it, it was designed to mislead,” says Montgomery County’s Consumer Protection Office Director Eric Friedman.

“It’s telling them they should send $99 to this organization, so they can file a petition for review of their real property assessment,” he says.

One of the letters provided by the Consumer Protection Office suggests the homeowner’s property tax bill “is approximately $1,346.00 higher than comparable homes due to changes in market conditions and the assessed valuation of your property.”

It is free for Maryland property owners in Montgomery County to petition for a tax assessment review. Friedman says the Department of Assessment and Taxation does not send residents mail about petitions. Instead, there is an online form available for download.

After receiving more than 1,000 calls from concerned homeowners, mostly from Bethesda and Potomac, Friedman’s office launched an investigation in partnership with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Better Business Bureau.

“They (Postal Inspection Service) went out to the return address, which turned out to be nothing but a mail drop,” Friedman says.

The investigation found the two people responsible and shut it down.

“Those individuals have signed a consent form to cease and desist and agreed to provide refunds to everyone and anyone who requests refunds,” he says.

Below is what the letter looks like:

Scam letter

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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