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Times of Wayne County

$42,000 and still counting…

State Police Investigator John Stubbe has tried just about everything to convince the Newark couple, in their mid-eighties, that the mail and phone solicitations they are receiving are bogus. The couple refuses to listen to their daughter, police, bank officials and Wayne County Adult Protective Services counselors that they are being scammed., Since November, the couple have sent in over $42,000 on promises that the advanced payments will yield them a $10,500,000 grand prize. Initially the couple were contacted through the mail. A modest $10 fee would lead to their winnings. As the culprits zeroed in on their ‘mark’, the phone calls and solicitations, believed to originate in Jamaica, have required more and more from the couple. They even use the ‘Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes ploy in their bag of tricks.

At one point the couple agreed to have their phone number changed, but soon had it changed back to the original number, so as not to miss any calls.
Investigator Stubbe thought all concerned had made progress when almost a month passed with no money flowing to the scam artists, but the couple once again began sending money to the scammers. “Nothing works with this couple. I simply cannot convince them,” said the investigator.

The elderly Newark couple are far from the only current victims. Another elderly Newark couple, convinced they too were winners in a lottery, found out their credit card was tapped into after falling prey to fake lottery winnings. Is it the trusting nature of the pre-baby-boomers, or fading minds responsible for the flow of money to Canadian, Africa, European and Caribbean crooks? Police and Wayne County Officials believe perhaps it is a mixture of both. The underlying premise for success is gullibility. Somehow logic and clear thinking go out the door when promises of millions appear on the horizon.

The scams take the mail and phone scenario of either a windfall in a lottery, or a distant relative leaving an inheritance. In either case, taxes, carrying costs, legal fees must be up fronted before the promised money can be paid out. Once the scam artists latch on to a gullible victim, the stories become more elaborate, the callers more convincing.

Beyond the local officials, both state and federal agencies are deluged with complaints. Little, or nothing can be done, can even be traced, since the culprits change phone numbers, addresses and methods to stay ahead of authorities.

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