Phony Sweepstakes Scam Targets Elderly Woman

Woman told to pay thousands in taxes for jackpot

By Pat Collins
|  Thursday, May 24, 2012  |  Updated 6:23 PM EDT
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Phony Sweepstakes Scam Targets Elderly Woman

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Police in Prince George's County are on the hunt for the people who scammed an elderly woman out of thousands of dollars.

The culprits, posing as legitimate sweepstakes workers, told her she’d won a $2.5 million jackpot and a Mercedes Benz but said they needed $8,000 from her to cover taxes. They said they couldn’t take a check but could accept the money in gift cards. And they told her to keep it a secret.

The victim withdrew $8,000 in cash from a credit union and then bought 16 $500 Green Dot gift cards at Walmart. Before she got out of the Walmart parking lot, the phony sweepstakes worker was on the phone again, asking for the gift card validation numbers, because once he got the numbers, the money was his.

Meanwhile at the credit union, they got suspicious about the large withdrawal and called 911.

Police acted quickly, freezing payment on 11 of the gift cards.

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