Woman loses $100 in international scam

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2011

CORYVILLE — Minnie Kelley is $100 poorer, but infinitely richer in terms of worldliness thanks to a scam artist who bilked her before she realized what was happening.

Kelley said recently she got a call from a man claiming to be with Publisher’s Clearinghouse. He told her she had won $250,000 but had to send him $99.99 via a Green Dot reloadable prepaid card.

After purchasing the card, she called the man back and gave him the number off the back so he could collect the money from her.

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The man, whom she said spoke with a foreign accent, told her the card was not useable and told her to go get another one.

She refused. At one point the man even told her he was at a local bank with her winnings. When she called the bank, she said bank employees told her they didn’t know what she was talking about.

“Its hard to tell how many people he got because he said he had a lot of people to call and go see,” Kelley said.

Kelley said she didn’t think anything was amiss at first because she does order sometimes from Publisher’s Clearinghouse.

Chris Irving, a spokesman for Publisher’s Clearinghouse, said that entity does not call winners and ask them to send them money in exchange for a prize. Winners, he said, are notified in person via the company’s famous prize patrol.

The first couple of times the man called, Kelley’s caller ID displayed “private name.” The man did give Kelley two numbers to call him back with green dot card number. The first is a number used by Aviva Insurance. An employee in Topeka, Kan., referred The Tribune to communications director Kevin Waetke, who said his company has no connection to Publisher’s Clearinghouse and that officials would investigate why his company’s number may have been used for other purposes.

When The Tribune called the second number, 876- 426-9972, a man with a Caribbean accent answered. When the reporter explained Kelley’s story, the man hung up. When the reporter called a second time the caller answered the phone, “Kingston Police Department.” When the reporter again explained why she was calling, the man replied, “This is the Freeport Police Department.” The reporter told the caller he had first said “Kingston Police Department,” not “Freeport”, and the man hung up a second time. The area code 876 is the area code for Kingston, Jamaica.

Kelley called the Green Dot company and explained what had happened to her. She said she was told no money had been taken from the card and they will refund her $99.99.

She contacted the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, who advised her to call the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.