Knoxville woman tries to scam a scammer

Knoxville woman tries to scam a scammer

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Donna Watson knew she had not won a Publishers Clearing House contest because she had not entered one. Donna Watson knew she had not won a Publishers Clearing House contest because she had not entered one.
"I remember him saying he needed 14-digit numbers," Donna Watson said. "So I went ahead and wrote 14 numbers down." "I remember him saying he needed 14-digit numbers," Donna Watson said. "So I went ahead and wrote 14 numbers down."
Watson was in her laundry room moving clothes from the washer to the dryer when she told the scammer she was at Walgreens. Watson was in her laundry room moving clothes from the washer to the dryer when she told the scammer she was at Walgreens.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol has made lots of people happy by handing out large cash prizes.

Over the years, however, con artists have convinced people they were calling on behalf of Publishers Clearing House.

When a Knoxville woman was told by one of those con artists she was a winner, she had the nerve to pull off what a lot of people would like to do.

Donna Watson knew she had not won a Publishers Clearing House contest because she had not entered one.

But the caller was persistent, so she played along. 

"This is where I pretended I was, right here at 'Walgreens,'" said Watson, standing in her laundry room.

Watson says the caller told her she was a grand prize winner.

"Five hundred thousand dollars and a 2013 Toyota Camry," she said was the prize.

She jotted the caller's name down, Dave Sayer.

"He asked if I was excited, if I wanted to do cartwheels. I said once I had it in my hands, well, yes," she said. "He said, 'It is very important, you are a rich woman now. Do not talk to anybody.' I thought okay Dave, I won't."

To receive her prize, however, Watson was told first she had to pay the taxes.

"I was to go in [to Walgreens] and purchase a Money Pack Green [Dot] card that cost $4.99 and I was to put $250 on it," she said.

This is where the local drug store becomes part of the story. Watson says she told the caller she was at the store.

She was actually in her laundry room moving clothes from the washer to the dryer while Sayer waited on the phone.

He was waiting for her to cash a money card, which Watson never purchased. Sayer said he wanted the 14-digit number that is revealed by scratching off a strip on the back of the card.

"I made up the numbers," she said. "I remember him saying he needed 14-digit numbers. So I went ahead and wrote 14 numbers down."

"I gave them to him, he was very happy," she said.

Watson then told the con artist her phone was dying, so she disconnected.

"Probably about five minutes later, after he probably put [the numbers] into the computer and found out they were not the numbers, he calls back," she said. "He says, 'I have left the numbers at the office. We are almost there,' he said, 'but I have to have the numbers before I meet you for us to give you your prizes.'"

Continuing to play his game, Watson repeated the numbers, four at a time.

"And I gave him the four numbers and hung the phone up. That was the end of the conversation," she said.

There's more to the story. With Watson, 6 On Your Side called the number Sayer had given to Watson.

"Dave, this is Donna Watson, the one who was waiting on you at Walgreens," she told the man who said he was Dave Sayer.

"You never showed up," she told him.

"Listen, do you want to get the prize today?" Sayer asked. 

"Well yes, I'd like the prize today," she told him. "I waited hours for you at Walgreens."

Sayer relayed the same instructions about making payments through a money card. That's when we asked a question.

"Can you tell me how many people have won today?" we asked.

The caller hung up.

Watson said he was the same guy she talked to earlier.

It's important to know the real Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol will not ask you to pay money up front.

Watson knew she was not a so-called grand prize winner. She gained some satisfaction in playing his game, but urges others to hang up on guys like Dave Sayer.

"I just wanted to play and see if I could beat him at his game," Watson said.

Investigators say it is nearly impossible to track down fraudsters like Sayer because they manipulate phone numbers, making them tough to trace.

The pre-paid cards and wire transfers they want you to use are nearly untraceable.

6 On Your Side does not recommend Watson's strategy. The best way to handle a caller you know is a fraud is to hang up.


You can see Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.

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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