The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 23, 2013

Woman falls for threat, out $21G

Port Trevorton woman harassed on Net, by phone

By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item

PORT TREVORTON — A 61-year-old Port Trevorton resident this fall lost a staggering amount of money — $21,290 — when she fell victim to a scam.

According to state police at Selinsgrove, between Sept. 28 and Oct. 18, the woman was “deceived into thinking she could receive a monetary grant” and was lured into paying for “fake fees and taxes.”

The scam started online, Trooper Paul Materne said.

“Contact was made over the Internet,” she said. “She received an IM (instant message) from someone she thought she knew or was a relative — which turned out not to be the case — who told her she qualified for some prize grant of $90,000.”

She was instructed to pay a fee to cover taxes before the grant check could be delivered to her house and to send the funds through a money-gram to an address in the West.

Convinced this was legitimate, the woman sent money but continued to receive messages that became increasingly threatening, the most recent ones coming by phone because she had earlier provided her address and cell number to the shysters.

According to what the victim told troopers, there seemed to be three or more people contacting her, some claiming to be with the FBI and accusing her of “Internet crime.”

As Materne pointed out, just because a money-gram is sent to an address in the United States doesn’t mean it can’t be diverted to another location — such as another country. In the last phone call the woman received, she was told to send money to an address in Nigeria. At that point, she contacted state police.

The investigation continues, but the chances of the woman recovering her money are slim to none.

If anyone offers you money and you don’t know anything about it, and then wants you to pay something to receive that money .... “obviously there’s something wrong,” Materne warned.



“Threatening” scams can be terrifying

This particular scam apparently started with the promise of a monetary grant award and then evolved into a threat — the victim being accused of “Internet crime,” which can unnerve people enough that they continue to send money.

Poor English and the whereabouts of “FBI” offices are immediate clues that a scam is being attempted.

Threatening scams can be terrifying, but they also must be successful because they continue to circulate.