Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

You’ve won $2 million March 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:13 AM
Tags: , , ,

A FRIEND—I’ll call her Alice—phoned yesterday. Unfortunately at the moment I answered the telephone, I was inputting some photos into my computer and I had to set down the receiver and finish that task.

When I returned, I asked, “What’s up?”

“It’s important,” she answered, her voice wavering.

Then Alice proceeded to tell me about the phone call from a man announcing that she had won a new car and $2 million. Instantly, my radar kicked in.

Alice had been instructed to go to the embroidery department of a local big box retailer and pick up some receipts. When she told the caller she didn’t know where the embroidery department was located, he advised her to go to the pharmacy area. Later that day, she was supposed to expect a delivery truck at her house.

She wondered if this was a scam.

I didn’t even hesitate. First, I told Alice to call the police. She already had. Secondly, I told her not to follow the instructions and not to give money to anyone. I emphasized that, absolutely, undeniably, this was all bogus. She had not won anything.

But, I could also tell, for a few seconds during our conversation, that Alice might have been persuaded to believe that she really had won $2 million and a new car. I’m not clear on the details of how my friend would have claimed her “prize,” but she did mention something about $2,000. I assume that’s the fee she was supposed to pay for the $2 million and that shiny new auto. She seemed somewhat confused about the process. By the way, Alice is a reasonable and cautious woman.

Alice had the caller’s phone number; it popped up on her television screen. He had also given her a cell phone number.

I assured Alice that she had done the right thing by contacting the police and that she should call me again if she needed to talk. I knew she was upset and unsettled.

Later in the day, I checked back with my friend. Alice was doing OK, but shared that she had been really nervous during the phone conversation with the unknown caller. He was difficult to understand and may have had a southern accent, she said.

I speculated he more than likely had a foreign accent.

A week ago I saw a piece on ABC’s television show What Would You Do? about a Nigerian man trying to scam an elderly woman, I told Alice. ABC’s 20/20 news show reported earlier on such Nigerian-based scams.

When I hear news stories like this, I never really believe such an attempted scam could happen in a Midwestern community like Faribault and especially to a friend. Yesterday I was proven wrong.

HAVE YOU, or someone you know, ever been the target of an attempted scam? If so, I’d like to hear about your, or your acquaintance’s, experience.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “You’ve won $2 million”

  1. Lanae Says:

    We at Waseca Floral have had @ 10 calls that are a scam. They use the hearing impaired service to make the call. Ask us to make 4-6 bouquets for $200 each and a delivery service will pick them up. Then can we pay the freight of @$2,000? When we say “no,” they claim discrimination. Get real. One of my friends who has gone to heaven used the hearing impaired service. It really pisses me off that THEY are using that service for a scam. We have contacted the police and Teleflora headquaters. At least one florist in Minnesota has fallen for this scam. BEWARE.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Wow, this is an incredible story, Lanae. I had no idea. Thanks for warning others, especially florists, of this scam.

  2. Bernie Says:

    Yes, Audrey..a month ago my mom got a call from her “grandaughter” (they even used the right name) and she proceeded to tell her that she was in another state and got in an accident and was too embarrassed to call her mom and dad and could she send money. My mom said to her that it didn’t sound like her and she said oh I have a cold. Needless to say mom did not do anything, she did report it. It is getting to be a very scary world out there….

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for sharing your mom’s story, Bernie. I have read about this particular scam that you described. Good for your mom to realize that it was all a lie. But I can see how someone can be talked into believing something by an individual who plays on fears and emotions. We all need to remain alert and help one another.

      I appreciate your comment and the previous one regarding these types of crimes. The more informed we are, the less likely we are to become victims.

  3. Kristin Says:

    I’ve gotten calls about prizes I’ve won, but I just ignore them. I could probably, legitimately, win something and never see it. Ever. At all. I should really stop entering contests…

  4. Bernie Says:

    Another scam folks in small towns should be aware of is the Mystery Shopping scam. If you want to be a Mystery Shopper you don’t have to pay anyone to get started. They will send you a check for say, $2,000 and want you to cash it and send them the money. Don’t! You can Google Mystery Shopping to find a ton of free ways to sign up. Don’t fall for that scam!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for tipping us off to this, Bernie. Many years ago I was a mystery shopper (taster) for a major pizza chain. That was legit. Once a month I “had” to order a pizza delivered to my home and then evaluate it. For my efforts, I got a free pizza. Now that was a good deal.

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