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The Lake News Online
  • Lake view: Beware sweepstakes scam

  • In the morning of August 21, I was at home and I received a phone call after 9:30 a.m. It was from the James Shinn (214) 447-7104 from Bell and Associates in Dallas, Texas. He asked for me by name and asked me to verify that was my name and if I was the person he was calling. I told him yes.
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  • In the morning of August 21, I was at home and I received a phone call after 9:30 a.m. It was from the James Shinn (214) 447-7104 from Bell and Associates in Dallas, Texas. He asked for me by name and asked me to verify  that was my name and if I was the person he was calling. I told him yes.
    I was asked to verify my address, city, state and zip code.
    Then he proceeded to tell me that I have been selected from a consumer service either because of something I purchased through a catalog, an ongoing subscription or an entry into the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.
    He asked me to sit down — then he told me I had won the second place prize which was $500,000. Asked how was I feeling?
    Then he asked me if anybody was home with me; anybody in my family — my husband or any children over 18 years old.
    I told him that my husband was here with me; so then he asked to speak to him. When he spoke to him, I placed the phone on speaker phone — he told him what he had told me that I had just won second place prize in the publishers clearing house and I won $500,000 and that on Monday morning between 9 and 11 a.m., there would be a man at our door to bring me the check.
    Then he asked to speak to me again. He said he needed to verify a few more things. I was skeptical to say the least so I was cautious what I would answer.   It went well — did not ask for any numbers — like Social Security, Credit Card or Bank Accounts.
    He asked had I recently won or been notified in writing or by phone call that I had won any sweepstake or monetary awards; stating you can only win once in a given period of time.
    Then he put another man in the phone. This man introduced himself as Attorney Richard Bell.
    Attorney Bell stated he was the attorney hired to handle this; he asked some general "approximate" financial questions, nothing specific.
    He went to quote an amount of money that he said the IRS claims is our worth and based on that the taxes due in $500,000 was over $100,000; however, he and his firm spent several days reducing that amount to only $65,000!
    Now I was SKEPTICAL!  He continued stating that this money was coming from overseas and the check "was already at the US Custom House." I was totally suspicious now. In order for me to get this award of $500,000, the taxes would have to be paid; I either needed to make arrangements to pay customs the $65,000 for the  taxes or show collateral so that once I receive the check and deposit it, the taxes would be paid instantly.
    Page 2 of 2 - I was concerned because I'm thinking what if the check doesn't clear and I've already submitted the $65,000, if I even had it.
    Attorney Bell then went on to say that this is strictly confidential and that I should only discuss it with my husband and no one else should be notified or made aware of the money for fear that family or friends would come out of the woodwork to ask me for some of the money.
    I suppose at this stage of the phone call I realized it's hell to get old and be so desperate to want to win something to have all that extra money for our future.
    At this point I confided in Attorney Bell that it might be too late for confidentiality; since my husband was concerned about the validity of this phone call so he went next-door where our friend lives who just happens to be our attorney and brought him over and he's been sitting here listening to the speaker phone and recording the conversation between us.
    I sensed a change in the tone of voice; he went on to say well if  he thinks he could do better at reducing the taxes he needs to be bonded and insured for two and a half million dollars.
    I said well he's nodding his head yes so he says he can take care of that.  You said earlier that we could verify this claim, so if you'll give us that information we will do that and then we will get back to you and make the necessary arrangements.
    He told me the claim for $500,000 was claim number E553S939 and the phone number was (202)803-4159.
    I told him we would make that call and we would get back to him after we checked also with the Missouri State Attorney General. He stated he would call me back in 20 minutes I thanked him and we hung up after 49 minutes.
    We called the Missouri State Attorney General's office and talked to someone in consumer relations; she took all the information down for me and then she added that they're hearing a lot of these types of phone calls and that the best thing we can do is just to hang up on them.  If we hang up enough times they'll get the message and take our number off of their list.
    After waiting over three hours, we decided he was not calling us back!
    I am sharing this with others; hope it helps.

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