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A prize that was no prize at all

The man on the phone had an accent that sounded foreign. He also had a prize for Dewayne Lewis.

He really wanted to speak with Dewayne, but wife Joyce said the man could talk with her.

“He said my husband won some winnings and he wanted my husband’s consent to come out to the house to deliver them,” Joyce Lewis said. “He really wanted my husband’s consent. I said that he doesn’t care, so come on out.”

The man gave no name, did not say what the winnings were, and did not identify a company or organization that provided the winnings. He did know her husband’s name and address, although he thought they lived in Park Hills, not Desloge.

“I think he got our address from the phone book,” she explained.

The call was listed on caller ID as blocked. Although he never asked for personal information, Joyce was suspicious.

“I told him I really think this is a scam. We read about these all the time in the paper,” she told the caller. “Your number wasn’t on my caller ID and it’s a blocked call.”

The man’s tone changed and he made a sexual comment.

“People don’t talk like that to me,” she said. “I told him, ‘Business people don’t talk like this. So I am right. This is a scam.’ Then I hung up.”

The fact that scammers have names and corresponding addresses is not surprising, Farmington Police Lt. Jeff Crites said.

“You can get anybody’s information on the Internet if you pay for it,” he explained.

The number of scams and the fact that so many are run from overseas makes it difficult for local police to investigate the complaints, Crites said. Local police provide common sense advice to help residents avoid falling for scams, but otherwise refer the cases to federal investigators such as the U.S. Postal Service, one of the federal agencies that investigate these crimes in the United States and overseas.

“You might want to get an unlisted number,” he suggested. “And you might get on the ‘No Call’ list.”

Postal Inspector Dan Taylor said it is likely that the caller would set up delivery, then call back with some sort of problem that required him to instead send a courier to deliver the winnings. If so, there would most likely be a courier fee for the couple to pay up front in order to get the winnings.

“Usually these guys call several times before they give up,” Taylor said, chuckling about the caller losing his temper. “She must have really gotten to him.”

The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened. We will include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation. The Daily Journal will run Scam Alert stories in the paper every Monday.

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