Elderly scam victim issues warning to others

Tuesday, November 8th 2005, 6:32 am
By: News On 6

An Okmulgee County scam victim has an important warning for others. It's too late for an Okmulgee woman to get back the money she lost, but she hopes it's not too late to warn others.

These scams always seem to hit when people are most desperate for money. Even though we've done these stories before, the message is so important, we can't repeat it enough.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says Linda Fuentez loves her grandchildren. She baby-sits them everyday to help her children save money. She recently had a new grandbaby born with a cleft lip, something that will require many surgeries and lots of money. So, five days later when a man called and said he had checks that belonged to her, she listened. "That's what he told me was he was a Customs agent and had to open this package to make sure it didn't have drugs in it and they found these two checks."

They totaled $35,000 and were because she'd won third prize in the Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes, a contest she's entered for years. "It's a legitimate company. The grand prize, they come to your house on national TV, so I figured, third prize, they'd send a courier and hand deliver it and I'd have to sign for it."

The only hitch was the man needed an $800 deposit to prove she could pay the taxes on the checks, so she cleaned out her savings account. "Stupid me, I convinced my husband, dear, we gotta pay the taxes first, so, there's the Western Union."

Then the man said he'd found two more checks and needed an additional thousand dollars, so Linda borrowed the money and sent it. After she sent the money, Linda kept calling the number in Canada and got a recording. Linda has since heard from several people about this scam, but, that hardly helps her now, she just wants to help others avoid the same fate. "I can't believe, I can't believe that I was, he was so damn convincing over the phone, so convincing."

Remember, if it's a letter, an email or a phone call and someone says you've won money or a car or whatever, it will never cost you a penny to collect it, if it's legit. If they want any money at all, don't fall for it. If they don't want money, but want your account number, don't fall for it.