Alcoa police officer thwarts scammer attempt to steal thousands

Alcoa police officer thwarts scammer attempt to steal thousands

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Juanita and her husband, Charles, have been married for 57 years. Because of the nature of this story they asked that we not use their last name. Juanita and her husband, Charles, have been married for 57 years. Because of the nature of this story they asked that we not use their last name.
The couple thanks Alcoa Police Officer Holly Hatcher for saving them a lot of money. The couple thanks Alcoa Police Officer Holly Hatcher for saving them a lot of money.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

ALCOA (WATE) - From Maine to Minnesota to Florida, law enforcement officials and U.S. Postal Service inspectors are reporting that seniors are being bilked out of huge sums of money.

Authorities says the elderly fall victim to Jamaica-based scam artists who make aggressive calls to unsuspecting consumers claiming they had won big prizes.  

A local police officer helped prevent an Alcoa couple from losing their money in that sort of scam.

Juanita and her husband, Charles, have been married for 57 years. Because of the nature of this story they asked that we not use their last name.

The couple thanks Alcoa Police Officer Holly Hatcher for saving them a lot of money.

Juanita used to participate in Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes and contests, but stopped entering the last few years.

Then the other day Charles was told in a phone call they had won the sweepstakes.

"They said we had won $950,000 and a Mercedes Benz," Juanita said. "We were hesitant at first, but they were so persuasive. It sounded so good. Charles said, 'What do you think, babe? Maybe we should do it.'"

The man on the phone directed Charles to go to a local grocery store. There he should buy four Green Dot pre-paid cards worth nearly $2,000.

"I went and got those cards and we waited," Charles said.

"It was a hurry, hurry thing," Juanita said, noting that the caller pressured them to act quickly.

"After they found out that we had purchased the cards, they said four guys would arrive at our house at two o'clock," Juanita said. "And we waited and waited. In the meantime, I contacted the Alcoa Police."

That's where Officer Hatcher enters the story. She told Juanita and Charles not to open their door to anyone they don't know.

Juanita had been given instructions by the man on the phone for what to do with the Green Dot Cards.

"He insisted that I scratch off the back of these cards," Juanita said. "I said no, I'm not going scratch that off."

Officer Hatcher says she is familiar with the scam. She says no payment is made until you scratch off the money numbers on the back of the card.

"That is the number the scammers will ask for," Hatcher said. "The scammers actually call Green Dot Company, give them that number. The account is set up in the scammers' name and they collect that money."

Officer Hatcher says Kroger is working to make sure the money value of the cards Charles purchased is returned to the couple.

"Don't, don't fall for it," Charles said about the scam.

Police and sheriff's agencies throughout East Tennessee say many people have fallen for this hoax.

Remember, if you have truly won a prize, no one will ask you for money up front, not for fees, taxes or to deliver a car.


Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on 6 News at 6:00.

If you have a consumer question, send Don an email at ddare@wate.com or call his 6 On Your Side hotline number at (865) -633-5974.

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