A Case Study
M.R.D., female, aged 86, living in Salt Lake City, Utah, was contacted by telephone by some very excited individuals who told her that she had won a million dollars in a sweepstakes that she had entered. The victim was an educated professional, living independently and not senescent, but beginning to get a little fuzzy around the edges when it comes to financial details.
Over the next month, M.R.D. was persuaded to send over $65,000 by Western Union and bank transfer to locations in Canada and Larnaca, Cyprus, for "taxes" and "fees" to claim a prize that gradually grew to $2,000,000. She was instructed to make reservations at the fanciest hotel in town where she would be met and presented with her money, TV cameras rolling.
Ultimately, the fraudsters simply stopped answering their phones, and M.R.D. realized that she had been swindled of almost all her savings. Feeling foolish, she was reluctant to let even her closest family members know of her loss, in spite of the fact that she had been rendered close to penniless by this con. Once the fraud was discovered, by virtue of some outstanding work by her bank, and by the grace of nothing short of a miracle, she was able to recover $60,000 of the money that she lost. This is by far the exception rather than the rule.
M.R.D. had never entered any sweepstakes, but had responded to a dozen or so of these fradulent sweepstakes fliers, some of which were addressed to locations in Canada. The only way the fraudsters had of contacting her was through the information she provided to these companies. Once she had bitten on the scam, she received thousands of additional mailings of the sort described in this web site, and they are still coming.
She is working to get her name off the "sucker lists", a process which may never be completed in her lifetime.