Three Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud.More >>
Three Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. Kevin Wallace Clark, Jay Stinnett, and Holly Radford pleaded guilty in exchange for providing information in the case.More >>
LAFOLLETTE (WATE) - Every day thousands of people lose money to telephone con-men.
They often call to announce that you are a big winner, but to collect your winnings there's a fee involved.
Just a few days ago, the Knox County Sheriff's Office issued a warning about letters and unsolicited phone calls announcing that you may have won money, but to get the prize you have to pay a fee.
Not too long ago, they would have you to wire the money. Now, they encourage you to place funds on a pre-paid card.
At home with her daughter, Miranda, Amber Wilson is like many people who dream of striking it rich. She thought that happened when a notice came, certifying that she was a big winner.
"Right there it is, more than $2 million. I thought, 'Oh my god. I can finally do a lot of stuff with this'," Wilson said.
Shortly after receiving the prize winning letter, her phone started ringing, the name and phone number very visible.
"There was a man who called me and wanted $126, and I had won a car and the money. He said if I paid him, he'd bring me the car and the money," she said.
Wilson quickly purchased a money pack card and scratched off the numbers.
"Last night I talked with him, he said he was right in my area with my car and never showed up," Wilson said. "He wanted 250 more dollars."
Suspicious, Wilson fired up her laptop, typed in the number that came up on her phone, and there were messages from across the country describing the hoax.
"I wish I would have seen that. This is the first time I had seen this," she said.
The name that kept coming up on her phone was Mark Richman, a man who didn't give up.
"At 7:30, 8:34, they called," Wilson said.
Richman called her all times of the day - morning, night, and even on the weekends.
"They want you to make a snap decision, be your friend, get you at ease and have you make a decision now. And stress the importance of making the decision today," said Jerry Tipton of the Better Business Bureau.
Some of the tricks these con men use are pressure tactics; they want you to rush out and buy that money pack.
The phone numbers are either blocked or numerous numbers will show up.
"When can I expect my money?" Mark Richman asked Wilson.
Richman called just as 6 On Your Side was about to leave. We asked about that fee Wilson sent him.
"She paid her money to receive her prize, she's going to receive her prize today," he told us.
We pushed Richman on why you have to pay for a prize.
"It's not me, my friend, it's a company policy," he said.
Richman also claimed he was calling from Las Vegas, but caller ID shows the call came from Jamaica.
For Wilson, losing $126 is a lot of money, but she's grateful it wasn't more and is now wiser.
Everyone is a potential target to these con artists.
If they get their claws into you, in other words, you fall for their hoax and send money, they never give up.
The best bet is, the first time you get one of these calls, hang up.
If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.