CHARLES CITY, VA (WWBT) - A Charles City woman loses five grand chasing a dream that came in the form of an unsolicited phone call.
The scammer quickly convinced her that she was a winner - and only needed to send a small payment to claim her million dollar prize. The only ones who got money were the scammers.
It's another reminder that no legitimate lottery or contest will ever ask you to send money for fees, taxes or anything in order to win. Almeda Tyler regrets what she did and is now warning others.
Tyler fell for lies each time she picked up the phone, and the man on the other end she says persuaded her to repeatedly send money to win $6 million.
"I was just excited thinking that I was going to receive money and I was going to help my children pay some bills," said Tyler.
It's doubtful the names the callers used are even their real names. Michael Myers sounds like a name borrowed from the Halloween slasher series.
"The guy, he was in Washington. He was asking me to send it to the lady in Texas," said Tyler.
Tyler says she made four or five trips to her bank withdrawing money from her account and sending it through Western Union to "Clara Wolfe," the lady in Texas. As instructed, she would call "Michael Myers" back to let him know she wired the money.
"It all added up to five thousand and something. He was cleaning out my account," said Tyler.
At some point, she confronted Michael Myers on the phone and insisted he refund her money. It's hard to believe, but the con continued.
"He said I would have to send in $200...so I sent the $200 and I still didn't get any money. Then he said send $150 and you'll get a refund," said Tyler.
The FTC's website says phone scammers promising free money often use official-sounding names resembling government agencies. Three of the four numbers Tyler was given have been disconnected. The one working number has a recording of a man's voice who falsely claims to be with the Federal Trade Commission.
The calls could have come from anywhere. One number traces back to Nigeria.
Also, receivers can pick up wire transfers anytime and anywhere. These are all reasons why prosecuting these people is so difficult.
"I got disappointed. Lost out. I would not send any money anywhere," said Tyler.
Victims can contact Western Union's fraud hotline at 800-448-1492 or report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 202-326-2222. More importantly, never wire money to people you don't know.
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