Grandmother took her own life after falling prey to a lottery scam and wiping out life savings
The day 72-year-old grandmother, Ann Mowle was finally going to be rewarded, she anticipated that someone would knock on her door at the Rossmoor adult community in Monroe and give her her prize money.
“She told us it was going to be a Publishers Clearing House thing,” said Monroe Detective Robert Bennett, referring to scenes taped for television ads, when Publishers Clearing House delivers a fat check to an unsuspecting winner.
However, when police arrived at Mowle’s NJ residence they soon realized she was the victim of an elaborate lottery scam, and warned her to ignore the calls and pleas for money. She would not listen, said Bennett. “In her mind she knew it was wrong, but she was still committed and obsessed with this scam.”
On Oct. 31, 2006 Mowle donated her clothes to charity, left her beloved toy poodle Molly at a dog groomers and drove her vehicle to Spring Lake, and jumped into the ocean, to her death.
The following day two fishermen found her body adjacent to a jetty at the Worthington Avenue beach. Her death was ruled a suicide. When investigators tallied her losses to the lottery scam they pegged the figure at $248,000, Mowle’s whole life savings.
A LOCAL POLICE DETECTIVE CLIMBS DOWN INTO THE ROCKS WHERE THE BODY OF A WOMAN WAS DISCOVERED ON THE JETTY, NOVEMBER 1, 2006
Mowle’s family blames the vicious year-long con for the path to despair that ended on that Spring Lake beach.
The money she had set aside to travel in her retirement and help her grandchildren with college costs was gone. Attempts to recover the funds with the help of authorities only led to embarrassment. In Mowle’s final months, she became a recluse — too afraid to leave her apartment and miss the phone call that would finally provide a return of her lost money.
“You’re not talking about a gullible person,” said her daughter JoAnn Trivisonno of Virginia. “You’re taking about a fearless woman. If this could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.”
Bennett recalled visiting Mowle’s home, the day she thought she was going to strike it rich. The home was immaculate, he said. There was no indication Mowle was suffering from dementia. After her death police found a tidy pile of records on her dining room table, documenting her dealings with the lottery scam.
People in the scam were so brazen, said Bennett, that they did not hang up the phone, when they called while police were at Mowle’s home.
“I spoke to these Jamaican lottery guys, and they laughed at me. They said, “You can’t do anything about it,”‘ said Bennett.
After the visit police contacted Mowle’s son and daughter, and told them how their mother was the obvious victim of a scam. “We notified them and said they should keep an eye on her finances. That was the last time we dealt with her,” said Bennett.
The money was sent in the form of a money order, or in a Western Union wire transfer, according to Bennett.
The scam began in October 2006 when she received a letter in the mail informing her she had won $2.5 million. However, in order to collect she had to pay $18,000 in upfront fees. Once she paid the operators of the scam kept asking for more.The day she expected to receive the prize at her front door, she was told the money was being delayed while it was held up at a customs’ office at the airport.
According to Bennett she had money in an annuity, and pleaded with the bank to allow her to withdraw more than was allowed, telling bank officials she needed the money to pay for cancer treatment