Scammers miss with Minden family
July 8, 2010
MINDEN, Nev. – Whatever bogus organization that attempted to scam Tim and Robbi Jacobsen out of thousands of dollars with a phony lottery picked the wrong family.
Robbi Jacobsen said Tuesday she received a letter dated June 28 informing her husband he won $320,000. It came with a check for $3,870 and instructed her to make her claim by July 30 or lose the winnings.
“It looked totally legit,” she said.
The check was issued by Park Avenue Securities from Chase Manhattan Bank and ostensibly was an advance to cover processing fees.
The letter also listed three names and a telephone number promising the transaction was “guaranteed safe and secure” and governed by the International Lottery Corp.
Jacobsen talked to a woman who identified herself as “Jessica Summers,” as indicated on the letter.
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“I asked how did she get our name and she said any time you use your credit card at a gas station or a restaurant, the number gets put in for a drawing,” Jacobsen said.
“She said it was not a scam, that we should take the check and deposit, then call her back for further instructions,” Jacobsen said.
The woman urged Jacobsen to call the Better Business Bureau if she had doubts which Jacobsen did.
She was advised by the Better Business Bureau that the letter was one of a number of swindles originating in Canada.
The scammers were waiting for Jacobsen to deposit the phony check, and send off $2,000 only to be informed after the check wouldn’t clear that the Jacobsens were out $2,000.
Jacobsen called the number and attempted to talk to “Jessica Summers” again.
“The same woman answered the phone, only this time she said her name was Jasmine Weber,” Jacobsen said. “I said, ‘That’s weird. An hour ago, it was Jessica.’
“Then she said, ‘Is this Robbi?’ I said, ‘You just gave yourself away. My first question is how do you look at your self in the mirror or go to bed at night?'”
She told the woman she was going to get hold of every agency she could including the FBI, Nevada Attorney General’s Office and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“I told her, ‘What you’re doing is illegal and you’re going down with them,'” Jacobsen said. “All she did was thank me for my advice and hang up the phone.”
Jacobsen realized she was fortunate not to fall for the scam.
“This is heartbreaking if it happens to people who can’t afford to lose the money. This letter looks as legitimate as the day is long,” she said.
Last week, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office took a complaint from a man who said he was informed his wife had won a large payoff. He told the caller his wife had died six years ago, but the scammer said he could still claim her prize. The man hung up the phone and contacted the sheriff’s office.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is (i.e. winning a sweepstakes or prize drawing that you never entered),” said Sgt. Jim Halsey. “Most importantly, never deposit unexpected funds from any source, nor pay any money to an unknown person or organization based upon some promise of monetary return or prize.”