Marysville police return $11,000 to Marysville scam victim

MARYSVILLE - On July 8, Marysville police detectives were able to return $11,000 to a 73-year-old Marysville woman who had lost close to $37,000 to a Jamaican lottery scam a few weeks before.

At a press conference in the city's Public Safety Building, Marysville Police Sgt. Deryck McLeod explained to reporters that "Mary," who asked not to be fully identified, had been contacted by phone by the scammers roughly six weeks before, telling her that she'd won a lottery and asking her to send money to cover the cost of taxes for the prize.

"We've talked with the Secret Service and the FBI about this scam," McLeod said. "It's come from the East Coast and California to the West Coast. After she'd sent them $1,700 to start, they asked for more checks, between $5,000 to $6,000 each."

Marysville police detectives were contacted by the U.S. Postal Service, who were in turn contacted by the Nevada Gaming Commission, about the scam. An initially unwitting accomplice had been enlisted by the scammers to cash Marysville victim's checks, receiving between 10 percent to 20 percent of the money in exchange for sending the rest of the money to Jamaica. When this accomplice grew suspicious, they contacted the Nevada Gaming Commission, and two of the Marysville victim's checks were able to be returned to her July 8 as a result.

According to "Mary," the scammers lulled her into a false sense of security by already knowing so much about her, from her name, address and phone number to the fact that she banks at Wells Fargo.

"They told me I'd won a Reader's Digest sweepstakes, and I have entered those," "Mary" said. "They kept asking for more money, and I accused them of scamming me many times, but they always had a rule or regulation or reason why they needed it. There were so many signs that I should have seen, but I ignored. I have four children, so I got wrapped up in thinking about what I could do for them with that money. It went on for three weeks."

"Mary's" family still doesn't know that she was scammed, and she wants it to stay that way. Nonetheless, she agreed to tell her story because she doesn't want others to learn what a scam looks like the hard way, as she did.

"Whenever any lottery or contest tells you that you have to pay a tax, or asks for any other type of money up front, however they phrase it, that's a tipoff that it's a scam," McLeod said. "If you don't know if it's a scam or not, contact your local law enforcement to have them see if it's legitimate. As they say, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is."

McLeod escorted "Mary" to her bank to re-deposit her recovered checks in her account, but she's still receiving calls and letters from other scammers. The U.S. Postal Service was able to recover those checks in little more than a week, after they'd received their tipoff, but "Mary's" information is still out there.

"In some cases, call centers will outsource to foreign countries whose employees are not paid a lot," McLeod said. "Unscrupulous call centers have sold the personal information that customers have provided them to gangs who use them for such scams. The U.S. postal Service has provided 'Mary' with envelopes for her to send the other scam letters that she's receiving, because they're conducting an investigation of their own on this one."

McLeod added that the state Attorney General's Office, the Secret Service, the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission are also good agencies for people to contact if they suspect they're getting scammed.

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