A elderly couple from Prescott were scammed out of close to $250,000, believing they had won the Spanish Sweepstake Lottery/International Program.
The 79-year-old man and his 80 year-old wife received a letter in January, 2010stating they had won $1,815,950 from the Spanish Sweepstake Lottery held on September 16, 2009. The letter advised participants to keep their winnings confidential, according to the Prescott Police Report. "...to collect the money, they were requested to contact Attorney Dr. Richard Morrison... for processing and remittance of prize money to be claimed no later than 4th March, 2010."
The wife stated she believed she had really won the sweepstake lottery and wanted to use the money to "...better the lives of her children an grandchildren and to make donations to her church."
The couple communicated with a person representing himself as Morrison via eamil and telephone conversations from January through April, 2010. According to the police report, "They made numerous wire transfers to Hong Kong because they were told they needed to pay fees up front in order to receive their prize money... until their bank accoun was practically depleted of all funds...they sold their stocks, refinanced their vehicle and even took out a line of credit on their home to send more and more money because Dr. Richard Morrison kept advising them of delays and mishaps with the prize money... they ended up sending approximately $240,000 - $250,000 overseas over the course of this fraud scheme."
The couple stated it took a lot of courage to confess to their children what had happened and to come to the police department to make the report. Since then, they have closed their bank account which was used to transfer the money.
"They told me they were warned of scams in a general sense when they wire-transferred money," Officer Michael Frascone writes in his police report, "but never felt it was happening to them."
The case has been forwarded to the Arizona Attorney General's Office for further investigation.
According to Beth Jones, a senior threat researcher with Sophos, the last two weeks before Christmas means an upturn in online scams.
In the excellent article by Joan Goodchild, a senior editor at CSO Online, titled, "7 Scrooge-worthy Scams for the Holidays" details are provided on the most prevalent scams and schemes seen today:
1. Free iPad giveaway!
2. Fake gift cards
3. Stripped gift cards
4. "You're preapproved for this credit card!"
5. Bvad e-cards
6. Bad links to holiday sales, job offers, etc.
7. Fake charities
This article is highly recommended and will help folks keep from being swindled. Again, that link is: 7 Scrooge-worthy Scams for the Holidays.