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Category Archives: Victim Stories

Online Dating Scam – Teresa’s Story

stop_romance_scamsI have been scammed of $33,500 over the internet by a man who goes by the name Paul, a Dutch man, Civil Engineer and widower.

I met him online through Yahoo Messenger in October 2011. I was going through a difficult time personally and wanted to meet some friends. I knew people that had met great people online so I thought I would try it. Paul reportedly was born in Leiden, Netherlands, attended the University of Leiden and got his engineering degree in Amsterdam at the university. He was married to Kate who was killed in a vehicle accident along with his son, James, in 2008 in the west business district of Amsterdam. (He later changed it to his daughter, Jackie, and told me I misunderstood. Hmmmm.) That’s how he ended up in the US, because he lost “everything” and came here to recover.

He went to Dubai right after I met him online to bid on a huge building project (5 star hotels) that was to give him funds to start over and help support missions, especially orphanages overseas. He said he was a Christian and knew the Bible quite well. While he was there, he became ill and required hospitalization. That was the first request for money. He said his bid was taking longer than expected and with the needed funds for the hospital he was going to be jailed if I couldn’t raise the funds to help him. So I sent $1250 to a “friend’s wife, Monica” in the Philippines. Next it was a request for more, $2000 to the same person.

Then he wanted to come home and needed $5,000. He was stranded in London because his valuables, passport and money were stolen by an Indian taxi driver. Then he was taken in by a “cop” and his wife in Manchester where he did house work and cooked for them to pay for his room and board. He needed $15,000 to pay his immigration attorney and leave the UK for the US. I wired this to another “friend” a Chinese man from Shanghai who was going to fly the money to him in London.

I questioned him every time and he always had a good excuse. He always promised to pay me when he got here from his bank in Bristol, TN where he had cash in the lock box at Wells Fargo. I became suspicious and he got upset, telling me he was going to send my money back. By that time I had closed that account after I realized I sent him my personal info on the receipt he asked me to email to him.

He always played on my good heartedness. I sent him $1,000 for medicine for his high blood pressure and food. He left Manchester after he “got a letter from his bank” attesting to his wealth and identity and went to stay with his sister, Jan, in Hampshire, UK. He borrowed money from his sister against her home and she was going to lose her home the first of the year if he did not get back to the US to send her the money to pay off her debt. That’s when I sent the final $2000 cash for his plane ticket to his “friend” in Laurel, MD, US who owned a business called Friendly Car Sales.

He promised me he would not disappoint me or hurt me, etc. you know the rest of the lie…..

I was just like everyone else, lured in by this male siren who spoke the language of true love or so I thought. I have filed complaints with the IC3, US Secret Service, local Police Department and Bank of America Security Department. I was intrigued by the details that this thief has memorized or maybe its all in a book that he refers back too, I don’t know. I do agree that this guy is very, very good at what he does for a living. I have talked to him on the telephone and also on webcam. I was fooled by his looks and personalized details to me.

Go to Hoax Slayer for other scam victim stories and additional information on different types of 419 scams and learn how to detect them.

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One Elderly Couple’s Losses and Hard Lessons Learned

Miriam Parker

In this Thursday, April 19, 2012 photo, Miriam Parker and her daughter Donna stand in the dining room of her Raleigh, N.C., home. Donna Parker and her siblings struggled for nearly seven years to extricate her parents from the clutches of an international sweepstakes scam. (AP Photo/Allen Breed)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — With their elderly parents seated across the octagonal oak table, Donna and Jim Parker were back in the kitchen they knew so well — the hutch along one wall crammed with plates, bells and salt-and-pepper shakers picked up during family trips; at the table’s corner, the spindly wooden high chair where a 7-year-old Jim had tearfully confessed to setting a neighbor’s woods ablaze.

It was Christmastime, but this was no holiday gathering. Now, it was the parents who were in deep trouble, and this was an intervention.

For the past year, Charles and Miriam Parker, both 81, had been in the thrall of an international sweepstakes scam. The retired educators, with a half-dozen college degrees between them, had lost tens of thousands of dollars.

But money wasn’t just leaving the Parker house. Strangely, large sums were now coming in, too.

Their four children were worried, but had so far been powerless to open their parents’ eyes. If they wouldn’t listen to their kids, Donna thought, maybe they’d listen to people with badges.

And so, joining them at the family table that late-December day in 2005 were Special Agent Joan Fleming of the FBI and David Evers, an investigator from the North Carolina attorney general’s telemarketing fraud unit.

At first, the Parkers were angry at what they considered their children’s betrayal. They had always been wary of the government, particularly the Internal Revenue Service. “Well, they’re just after your money,” Charles Parker would say.

But they’d politely invited the two officers in.

The home was littered with sweepstakes mailers and “claim” forms, the cupboards bare of just about everything but canned soup, bread and crackers. Charles Parker acknowledged to their guests that he’d lost a lot of money, but expressed confidence that he and his wife would eventually succeed if they just kept “investing.”

Evers and Fleming showed the couple a video of other elderly scam victims, then played a taped interview of a former con man describing how he operated. Charles was alarmed by what he was seeing and hearing, but his wife seemed to be barely paying attention.

The officers explained they were there to ask for the Parkers’ help in catching these predators. With their permission, Evers installed a “mooch line” on the kitchen phone so they could capture incoming calls.

Charles, a war veteran, was tickled at the notion of being part of an undercover operation. He and his wife pledged their cooperation.

After gathering up some of the mailings for evidence, the officers left, encouraged by what seemed a few hours well spent.

But in the coming months and years, things would only get worse for the Parker family — much worse.

freemoneyIt’s important to note at the outset that the Parkers were hardly unsophisticated people, the type to be easily fooled. Born in 1924, Charles Alexander Parker and Miriam Wilkinson were high school sweethearts back in Pitman, N.J. Charles served on a Navy destroyer escort off north Africa in World War II, after which they married and embarked on a life of learning and teaching.

Charles earned a doctorate in speech communications, and Miriam received a pair of master’s degrees, one in special education. Along the way, Miriam gave birth to four children: Donna, Jim, Linda and Carole.

After teaching stints around the South, Charles Parker took a position in the English department at North Carolina State in Raleigh, from which he would eventually retire. In 1966, the couple built a split-level home in a neighborhood with streets named for flowering trees, and later converted the garage into a classroom for Miriam’s special-needs pupils.

Through their hard work and thrift, the Parkers were able to send all four children to college and pay off their home. They bought a piece of land in the North Carolina mountains and put a camping trailer on it, eventually replacing it with a house.

Between their savings and Charles’ pension, they were looking at a comfortable retirement.

Then the conman entered their lives.

___

Older Americans lose $2.9 billion a year to fraud, according to a study conducted last year by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech. Most victims are between 80 and 89, and most are women.

“Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century,” Denise Voigt Crawford, past president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, said when the report was released.

Using the latest technologies, “these criminals need not defraud their victims face-to-face,” David Kirkman and Virginia H. Templeton wrote in a 2007 article for the journal Alzheimer’s Care Today. From far away, “they can identify vulnerable seniors, contact them, and induce them to part with their savings.”

A slowing down of brain function comes with normal aging, they noted. The elderly are susceptible to errors in judgment, particularly in situations where a snap decision is required — such as during a telemarketing call.

“Experience teaches us that those with mild dementia tend to be the most vulnerable,” wrote Kirkman and Templeton, respectively an assistant attorney general in North Carolina and a gerontologist.

The Mayo Clinic defines “mild cognitive impairment” as an “intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more pronounced decline of dementia.”

The basis for a diagnosis in many cases: falling victim to repeated scams.

___

No one can say exactly how the trouble began in the Parkers’ case.

They might have made a small donation to some charity or responded to a sweepstakes letter they got in the mail. Somehow, the couple ended up on what people in the industry call the “sucker list.”

And once they were marked, the scammers proceeded to “reload” them.

You’ve won this multimillion-dollar lottery, they’d say. All you need to do is send us the money to cover the taxes, and we’ll send you your prize.

So on Dec. 8, 2004, Miriam Parker — then 80 — drove herself to the Wal-Mart down the road to send a MoneyGram to Montreal, Quebec.

Isolation from absent children is often one of the hallmarks in cases like these. But that wasn’t so with the Parkers. Sure, Jim had settled in Ohio, and Carole was living in Florida. But Linda and Donna were both just down the road in Cary.

With three kids to raise, Linda wasn’t able to look in on their parents all that often. So she and the others counted on Donna, the eldest, to keep an eye on things.

A busy real estate agent and teacher, Donna popped in as often as she could. But she’d always appreciated her parents for not trying to tell her and her siblings how to live their lives, and she did her best to return the courtesy.

In her parents’ living room is a plaque that reads, “Mom’s 10 Commandments for a Happy Household.” No 10 on the list: “If I say do it, don’t ask why.”

No. 6: “If it rings, answer it.”

And so, over a series of calls, Howard Clark — a man with a warm voice who called her “dear” and “sweetheart” — had learned enough personal information about Miriam to convince her that he was the family’s ticket to riches.

After her Dec. 8 MoneyGram, other wires followed on Dec. 13 and 16.

On Jan. 12, 2005, she sent a Federal Express package to a “Mr. Stewart” on Papineau Street in Montreal. Inside, as instructed, was a magazine with $12,550 in cash sandwiched between its pages.

The Parkers had quickly become what authorities refer to as “super victims.”

Though trusting, Miriam asked Howard repeatedly when they would receive their winnings. One day, he called to say he was on his way to deliver the prize in person — only to call back to say he’d been detained at the border, and that he needed her to send $200 so he could defray things. She sent him the money.

By May 2005, the Parkers had blown through their savings. They had tapped into their home equity line and had maxed out several credit cards. Willing as they still were, the Parkers were running out of things to give.

Unwittingly, their children had contributed to the problem. When Miriam asked Donna for a $7,000 loan, the daughter thought little of it.

Through most of their marriage, Charles Parker had taken care of the couple’s finances. But in 1989, shortly after his retirement, he suffered a heart attack. That was followed by colon cancer. As her husband’s health declined, Miriam stepped to the fore.

Faced with mounting debt — and clinging to the assurances that a big payday was coming — she was determined to right their financial ship.

That’s when she became a “money mule.”

sweepstakes-scam-counterfeit-checks

In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, Assistant Attorney General David Kirkman holds checks of the type often received by targets in his Raleigh, N.C., office. The recipient forwarded them to his office. Kirkman said sometimes the checks carry the names and account numbers of legitimate companies, and by the time a bank confirms they’re bogus, the victim has usually sent the amount to the scammer via wire and ends up on the hook for the money. He also said the amount of money swindled from North Carolinians by these scams has doubled in the past year.

She can’t remember whether it was in a phone call or a note. But Howard told her that she’d been “hired” by the Canadian sweepstakes company.

On May 5, 2005, a package from Bloomingdale, N.J., containing $8,275 in cash arrived at the Parkers’ home. It was followed five days later by a FedEx packet with $10,000, then three days after that by an envelope stuffed with $25,000.

In just over one week, Miriam Parker would receive and repackage $60,000 in cash for delivery to Mr. Stewart of Papineau Street, Montreal.

Having the money hopscotch from one victim to another complicates things for would-be investigators.

Sometimes, there would be two stacks of bills, one much thicker than the other, tucked into magazines. The smaller pile was Miriam Parker’s “commission.”

If someone sent her a check, she was to convert it to cash and send that along, Howard said — and she wasn’t to tell her children about their dealings.

But the kids had already become alarmed by changes in their mother’s behavior.

During visits, Jim noticed that she would race him to the phone, and then prevent him from listening to the conversations.

She stopped going over to Linda’s house to help with the babysitting. And when the couple would go to the mountain house, they’d only stay the day — because Miriam was expecting a call and had to be home to get it.

And then there was the sudden need for loans. When Donna asked what for, her parents were evasive, saying they were helping one of the grandkids with school expenses. By then, they owed her $20,000 and Jim another couple thousand.

Jim sent his mother articles about people who’d been scammed.

When the kids finally persuaded their mother to get a credit report, the news was jaw-dropping. Their thrifty parents were nearly $200,000 in debt.

Miriam Parker insisted that their ship was about to come in, and that she would soon repay all the loans. So Donna gave her a deadline.

In an email to the other siblings, she explained: “I told her that if the money was not there by Wednesday, July 6, the family would be forced to do things we do not look forward to. I also implored her not to give Howard any more money. She still believes in him.”

The money, of course, did not come. It was time to get authorities involved.

Raleigh police told Donna there was nothing they could do unless the perpetrators were local, and so she went to the state Attorney General’s Elder Fraud Unit. Around that same time, Donna received a call from the FBI — her parents had popped up on their radar in connection with another case.

It became apparent to authorities that the Parkers weren’t truly willing participants in the scam. So they staged the December family intervention.

That kitchen-table gathering ended promisingly, with Miriam assuring Fleming and Evers that she would not forward any more packages. Charles told them he felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted.

Donna allowed herself to hope that the people who’d ripped off her parents would be caught — and that they might even get some of their money back.

But a frantic phone call a couple of weeks later dashed those hopes.

“They’re going to turn the gas off,” her mother told her on a day with temperatures forecast to plunge into the 20s. Calling the utility company, Donna learned that her parents owed more than $900.

Next it was the electricity. Then the water. Eventually, the children were having to buy their parents’ groceries.

Even then, Miriam remained convinced that Clark was her friend. At one point, she invited him to the family’s mountain retreat to meet her kids. The Parker siblings sardonically referred to him as “our other brother Howard.”

Attorneys Donna contacted could offer no help — the elder Parkers hadn’t been deemed incompetent, and it was their money.

And the envelopes just kept coming — from San Jose and Hayward in California, from East Liberty, Ohio.

In April 2006, Jim Parker and his wife Susan came to town for Donna’s wedding. They were sitting in his parents’ kitchen when the doorbell rang.

The FedEx driver handed Jim a crinkly envelope. From the outline, he knew without opening it what was inside. He sneaked downstairs to his old bedroom, pulled out a business card with a gold seal on it and dialed the number.

“I’ve got this package,” he said. “What do you want me to do with it?”

He and David Kirkman, manager of the Elder Fraud Prevention Project in the AG’s office, met at a gas station. When authorities opened the envelope, they found an old issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. It contained $5,725 in cash from a Visalia, Calif., widow.

Kirkman called a contact at Federal Express, who ordered a stop on deliveries and pickups at the Parker home.

But the crooks just switched to United Parcel Service.

And now, in addition to money, they were delivering and picking up car tires and custom rims, and laptop computers worth thousands of dollars — all purchased by other elderly victims.

That’s when state and federal authorities reached out to their counterparts north of the border.

___

The FBI subpoenaed records from the courier services Miriam Parker was using and found the address in Montreal. On Aug. 2, 2006, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Surete du Quebec paid the occupant a visit.

Dave Stewart acknowledged accepting numerous packages from the American lady on behalf of a man whom he knew as “Roger.” Stewart, a native of Jamaica, said he was paid $100 per package.

In all, Miriam Parker had shipped 119 packages totaling more than $606,000 to Stewart. Professing ignorance of any illegal activity, Stewart agreed to cooperate.

Howard, meanwhile, gave Miriam a new address to which she should forward items.

On Aug. 17, 2006, laptops valued at more than $7,200 arrived from Hayward, Calif. She sent them to a “Joseph Reid” on Sixth Avenue in the Montreal borough of Verdun.

Parcels kept coming — from Texas and Massachusetts, South Carolina and Washington, Missouri and Maine.

By December 2006, with the Parkers’ credit card debt topping $70,000, the family held another kitchen-table intervention.

This time, they persuaded their parents to grant Donna a limited power of attorney. One of the first things she did was change their phone number — though too late to stop them making $650 in calls to Jamaica in one month.

In January 2007, she accompanied her parents to the credit union, where they took out a 30-year, $179,000 mortgage on their home.

But it was like shoveling sand against the tide. Late that spring, Donna Parker got a call from a grocery store near her parents’ home. Her mother had been in five times that day to wire money.

She remembers one particular evening, sitting around the kitchen table, attempting to help her parents draft a budget. About an hour and a half into the visit, she realized they hadn’t been paying attention.

“Why aren’t you listening to this?” she asked.

“We’re waiting for the phone call,” her mother replied. They were expecting delivery that night of a new Mercedes, another supposed reward that would never come, of course.

Exasperated, Donna stormed out.

___

Miriam Parker had become a cog in Howard Clark’s fraud machine. The FBI’s Fleming decided to turn the tables on him.

On April 3, 2007, Miriam phoned him — this time with Fleming recording.

“Howard?”

“Yes, dear,” he replied sweetly.

It might have been her fault, Miriam began, that they’d had trouble with some shipments lately.

“I should have mentioned to you, I’ve been having an ear wax problem, and it’s gotten real serious …,” she said apologetically. “I don’t always hear too well.”

As the conversation went on, Howard grew testy about her failure to send her packages quickly. In one case, he noted, trucks had left a UPS office just before an important package arrived from her. Send everything next-day air, he demanded.

When she asked whether she should go back to her former shipper, Howard cut her off.

“Don’t go back to that same store, sweetheart. No, you can’t never go there again.”

When she suggested that the person at the store was just trying to save her some money, Howard told her that was not their concern.

“I’m giving you the money to pay for this. YOU just do what I instruct you to do, dear.”

Perhaps sensing he’d been too hard, he changed his tone.

“Not to say that YOU are making the mistake, but maybe they are,” he said. “And we can’t afford for you OR them to make the mistake.”

But this time it was Howard who’d made the mistake.

Using “trap and trace” technology, the FBI determined the pitch calls were coming from Montreal, and Mounties soon had a real name for “Howard Clark” — he was Clayton Atkinson.

Atkinson had 13 convictions for assault, theft and weapons possession stretching back to 1994.

On April 13, 2007, three officers in blue flak vests positioned themselves at the door of his apartment. An agent down the hall dialed Clark’s number, and the ringtone sounded from inside.

Pretending to be Jim Parker, the agent said he was calling to help his mother collect her prize. As soon as Atkinson spoke, the officers burst in.

In Raleigh, a federal grand jury handed up a 35-count indictment against Atkinson and two co-defendants — Dave Stewart and Jamaal McKenzie, aka “Joseph Reid”. The three were charged with one count each of conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property, seven counts of wire fraud and 26 counts of mail fraud.

___

Even then, the trouble wasn’t finished for the Parkers, obviously now a marked couple.

Not long after the indictments, Donna Parker got a call from a Western Union office near her parents’ home. They’d been there twice in one day, “sending money to a relative in Jamaica.”

By then, Charles and Miriam Parker were nearly 84. Pushed to the edge, Donna suggested it was time they let her take over their affairs.

“I am NOT mentally incompetent,” her father, who had suffered a second heart attack, protested.

parker

In this Monday, June 18, 2012 photo at her Cary, N.C., home, Donna Parker holds a picture of her father, Charles, shortly before his death in February 2012. She and her siblings spent years extricating their parents from an international sweepstakes scam. 

“Dad,” she replied. “I’m not going to go and say you’re incompetent. But I will go and say you’re financially incompetent.”

In May 2008, she filed a petition seeking appointment of a financial guardian. The last line was the most difficult of all: “It is the Petitioner’s opinion that senility or some other undiagnosed condition may be the cause of the Respondent’s actions.”

The court appointed local attorney David T. Watters guardian ad litem. The Parkers were “charming and personable,” but hopelessly blind to their predicament, he wrote.

It was clear to him that Miriam Parker was the main concern.

“Incredibly, Respondent fails to recognize that the family is the victim of a cruel financial scam,” he wrote. “In two conversations, she indicated that she felt that she was working with a better quality of person at this time, and that these people would live up to their promise to provide money to Respondent.”

The court appointed Donna Parker guardian of their estate.

Clayton Atkinson

This undated photo provided by the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office shows Clayton Atkinson. In 2007, the FBI determined phone calls to defraud Charles and Miriam Parker in North Carolina were coming from Montreal, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police soon had a real name for the man who identified himself as “Howard Clark” to them. He was Clayton Atkinson.

The criminal case ground slowly along, and last year Atkinson and Stewart pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy and mail fraud. (Jamaal McKenzie is awaiting trial in Canada on an unrelated assault charge.) The plea agreement listed 31 individuals who’d been defrauded of a total of $840,705.

When Atkinson appeared for sentencing at U.S. District Court in Raleigh on March 15, Miriam and Donna Parker were there. Charles Parker had died just a month earlier.

Miriam Parker had imagined Howard as much older, perhaps with gray hair. Standing before them was a 33-year-old man, his dark hair cropped close.

When the time came for victim impact statements, Donna Parker rose. She told Judge Terrence W. Boyle that it had taken two years to pay off the credit card debt her parents had racked up. She talked of the cashed-in insurance policies and liquidated stocks, and of the mortgage they’d been forced to take out.

She told of having to take her parents to court, and of the lingering resentment it had caused.

“To this day,” she said, still referring to her father in the present tense, “they are convinced that their family deprived them of their right to prizes and lottery winnings.”

Her father was now beyond further harm, she told the judge. But she lived in constant fear that her mother would be victimized again.

“The sad thing is, I know my family is not unique,” she said. “Scammers who prey on the elderly are a blight on society.”

For his part, Atkinson pledged to “pursue legitimate things in the future.” He hoped to one day return to Canada to care for his aging father.

Seizing on this, the judge asked: “Can you imagine if somebody like you was doing this to your family? Could you imagine how shocked and outraged you’d be?”

Atkinson stood mute.

“Answer me!” Boyle thundered.

“I can’t sit in front of you and give an excuse for it,” Atkinson said.

Boyle sentenced Atkinson to 12½ years in prison, Stewart to 6½. He also ordered them to pay $840,705 in restitution — $84,350 of it to Miriam Parker.

No money has been recovered, Agent Fleming told the judge.

Responding to an interview request, Atkinson sent The Associated Press a three-page, expletive-laced letter, cursing prosecutors, his lawyer and America’s “corrupted justice system.”

“i am angry and miserable everyday,” he wrote in his unpunctuated, ungrammatical reply. “my life is (expletive) ruined now you think i care about the parkers”.

___

Even today, Miriam Parker seems conflicted about the man she still refers to as Howard.

“He was always very nice,” she said.

She managed to keep her home, but she’s lost most of her independence. Each month, Donna sends her a debit card with $500 on it, to pay for food, prescriptions and gas — soon to be 88, her mother still drives. The daughter still screens the mail and pays all the other bills.

On a recent, sultry day, she and Donna sat at that familiar oak table, a Lazy Susan piled with junk mail between them. On the shelf was a new memento: A miniature Mountie, keeping watch in his iconic red tunic and broad-brimmed hat.

How could Miriam have taken money from other people, knowing what she and her husband had been through?

“I didn’t realize some of that was happening,” she replied, meekly.

She looked down at the table and shuffled envelopes.

“As I look back on it, it was a good bit of stupidity on my part,” she said, her voice dropping. “I just felt that I had really been a real sucker — I really had. And, but, I guess I was just so anxious.”

She keeps turning it over in her mind: How did Howard get her name? It must have been that company she used to buy that cheap jewelry from, she figures.

“It had a Canadian address,” she said absentmindedly.

She said she knows better than to respond to such junk mail now.

“I’d better not,” she said, casting a glance at her daughter. “Or they would’ve been on my back, right?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Donna replied.

“Which is all right,” the mother said. “I have very smart kids.”

“We had to be,” her daughter said.

Source of article: Big Story

 
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Posted by on 03/30/2013 in Victim Stories

 

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NH Woman Loses $25,000 To A Nigerian Romance Scammer

broken_heart_online_dating_scamsBOSTON (CBS) – A New Hampshire woman who thought she’d found Mr. Right has been scammed out of $25,000.

Claudia says she followed her heart – even though her gut told her to stop.

“He took me to the cleaners,” she told WBZ-TV.

After beating breast cancer and losing her father, Claudia was looking for a fresh start.

She thought she found him on Match.com.

“I looked at the profile and it was… almost too good to be true,” she said.

His name was Bennett Lawson, a good-looking and seemingly well-off man who claimed to be German-born but living in Nashua.

They couldn’t meet he said, because he was on business in Egypt.

“He sounded so legitimate and I wanted him to be everything he said he was,” Claudia admits.

As it turns out, he was a scam artist. For a month, the man convinced Claudia to send him money and electronics to an address in Ghana.

“Every time I sent him money, or he asked me for something, he would always come back if I said no or I didn’t have the money, he’d say ‘I thought you loved me. I thought you trusted me,’” Claudia said.

Claudia maxed out her credit cards.

Her month-long online fling cost her more than $25,000 before she realized Bennett was a criminal.

“I said because this is you, you’re scamming me. I lost all that money and I know I’m never going to get it back,” she told WBZ-TV.

Claudia is telling her story with hopes it will help her heal and to warn other online daters not to make the same mistakes.

“I’m just going to keep moving on. I have to,” she said. “Mr. Right is out there. And he’ll find me or I’ll find him.”

Claudia says when she looked up Bennett’s name on a scammer website and he had 81 hits. She reported him to international authorities. But if he really is operating in Ghana, it’s not likely he’ll ever be caught.

Source of article: CBS Boston

 

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Jessica’s Story – A chronic email scam victim

When Jessica was in her seventies she decided to continue her late husband’s subscription to Readers Digest. She got heavily involved in a competition run by ”Tom Champagne” who convinced her, she was on the cusp of winning a large cash prize. To stay in with a chance she bought hundreds of pounds worth of books, tapes, CDs and various other things she neither needed nor could afford.

Jessicas-Story

Photo of Jessica

She never did receive a prize, but Tom Champagne sent her many cheques made out in her name. Once she tried to pay one into the bank, unfortunately Jessica hadn’t spotted the small wording that said the cheque was only a sample. She did however receive something for her loyalty; Tom Champagne sent her a plastic champagne glass, for her to use to celebrate her win. Needless to say it never did get used. Even though her family continually tried to explain that some companies use very devious sales techniques, she was still really disappointed. She wanted to financially help the ones she loved and donate money to the children’s charities she cared about so much. Jessica always enjoyed to give and had never been in a position to have much surplus cash.

As time passed Jessica received a very exciting letter, the letter looked like an important document and told her that if she sent a small fee it would release a large cheque that she had won in a competition. Jessica thought this was the big win that she had been waiting for from Tom Champagne and quickly sent off the fee. On the claim form she put down all her personal details. Unfortunately the letter wasn’t from Tom Champagne or Readers Digest it was her first scam letter. When family members realised what she had done they tried to explain that she had fallen for a scam. But Jessica had never heard about scam mail and refused to believe what they said. Of course no money ever arrived, but the amount of what appeared to Jessica to be fantastic mail started to increase.

Unbeknown to her, the scammers who sent that first scam letter had put her name on a suckers list and were selling her details to other criminals all over the world.

Jessica still refused to believe that her good news/excellent news mail was only worthless pieces of paper designed by criminals, to make her part with her cash.

As the weeks turned into months the amount of scam mail she was receiving, was getting ridiculous. Around 30 letters a day from all over the world that had things like Guaranteed Winner, Time Sensitive Document, Reply Immediately To Release Your Award and various other slogans and logos plastered all over them.

Jessica was soon sending nearly all of her pension each week to keep up with the scammer’s demands. So-called clairvoyants had also jumped on the bandwagon and were pretending to be her friends. The more the family tried to make her see the truth about what happening, the more the arguments erupted.

The “clairvoyants” convinced her that her family were jealous of her forthcoming wealth and said they were concerned for her welfare. She befriended a certain clairvoyant from Holland and she would send personal letters along with his payment. Others told her that they could see disaster and harm heading towards her or her family and if she sent them a fee they could keep bad luck away.

She would often sit up till 3am trying to keep up with the scammers demands. She had put so much cash into what she thought was the run up to a huge pay out and had promised to gift money to so many people, she just couldn’t focus her mind on anything else.

Jessica had never broken a promise and insisted she never would.

Her family could see every trick that the criminals were playing on her and the way they were all battling for her cash, but Jessica was under the spell and refused any outside help and even threatened to disown family members if they tried to interfere.

She was hording the scam mail all over her house it was in cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, the shed was full of knotted carrier bags bulging with scam mail. She continually gave out her phone number and the scammers would phone her late at night. Nothing seemed to matter to Jessica, her life revolved around the hundreds of letters her postman delivered each week. She would go without buying food, rather than miss a payment to a scam. Some family members gave up trying to make her see sense and formed the opinion that if she is stupid enough to respond she deserves to be scammed.

Jessica’s obsession made it appear as if she was sending her money willingly, but her youngest daughter Marilyn, could see her mum had been brainwashed by the volume and content of the scam mail.

Over some 5 years Jessica sent thousands of pounds to criminals and had also suggested releasing some equity from her house. Fortunately the house was in the name of her three children so she couldn’t sell it. She started to panic when she couldn’t find enough money to fill all the pre-addressed envelopes that had PO Box addresses all over the world. So she stopped paying her domestic bills. She told no one about the financial mess she was in…(Except her favorite clairvoyant from Holland) She started having panic attacks and palpitations, one of the clairvoyants who used fear as a way of extracting money told her that there was an evil force on a higher plain, Jessica had not been able to cover his “fee” to keep the evil away and thought that the evil was upstairs.

She became breathless and fearful every time she tried to climb up the stairs. Her body and mind were at breaking point with the continual torment that the scammers had inflicted on her over the years.

Jessica died on October 24 2007 she was 83 years old. On her death certificate it says cause of death pneumonia.

The source of this story Think Jessica is a anti-scam website created based on Jessica’s story. Click the link to view other scam victim stories and how to avoid scams.

 
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Posted by on 12/19/2012 in Victim Stories

 

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Gran tells how she was conned into spending £6k on ‘worthless vitamins’ VITAMAIL SCAM

An elderly grandmother has told of how she blew £6000 of her pension on worthless vitamins after being caught up in prize draw scam.

Widow Ann McCorquodale forked out £40-a-week on supplements after being guaranteed a £10,000 pay-out in return. But the mail-order con lasted three years and has left the 77-year-old penniless with a house bulging with health products.

The irony is Ann can’t even use the vitamins because of existing medication she takes. Last night, she said: “I still can’t believe I let them con me for three years. I didn’t tell a soul about what was going on, not even my family, it was my secret. I felt horribly guilty.”

Retired nurse Ann, from Greenock, was lured by the promise that a huge cheque from Vitamail was on its way if she sent the company £40 order for vitamins every week. When the cheque never arrived, the pensioner considered cutting off all contact with the ruthless French firm and even wrote a letter telling them to leave her alone.

But Ann felt bullied and threatened by constant letters and phone calls and for years she continued to send postal orders to Vitamail’s Bedford PO Box number. Ann had hoped to use the £10,000 to make her dream of visiting her daughter and grandchild in Australia come true. Every week Vitamail promised she would have the money in 10 days and that a photographer would call and take photos of her with her cheque. They also sent her letters with pictures of other happy pensioners who had won the cash to keep her hooked.

Ann isn’t the only one to fall for the scam. Hundreds have posted comments on blogs and forums warning people to steer clear of Vitamail.

Last night, she said: “I feel so stupid and ashamed that I could have been sucked in by this scam. I was desperate to find the money to go and visit my daughter and granddaughter because my heart has been broken since they moved to Australia four years ago. Then when this letter came through the door offering a chance to win £10,000 I jumped at the chance. Now I feel like a total fool.”

Source: ThinkJessica

 
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Posted by on 12/19/2012 in Victim Stories

 

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