TRAFALGAR, Ind. (WISH) — Johnson County authorities are asking people to be on the lookout for scammers. They say they receive reports on a daily basis. The latest victims are out more than $5,000, and they say the crook was so persuasive that not even their bank detected it.
Lowell and Emma Lou Flake thought they had won the American Dream Giveaway. But instead, their dream turned out to be a nightmare.
“They had $3.5 million waiting for me and a Mercedes car with my name on it,” Emma Lou explained.
But before they could collect their prizes, there was of course, a catch. They say the thief needed them to send money to cover costs.
“$1,500 in taxes, we paid that and then $270 more because $1,500 was not enough and there was a mistake, so $270 more,” she explained.
After wiring the money, still, no Mercedes and definitely no $3.5 million. That’s where the Flakes drew the line. Until Lowell got a phone call from the scammer.
“Told him how much of jerk he was and I wanted my money back that he stole from us and that’s when he sent us each a check,” he said.
They say the person behind the scam sent them two realistic checks; $4,500 each. They say the checks were drawn off of Chase bank, where they also bank. The Flakes say the checks were so convincing that not even their banker detected fraud.
“I went in and they said it had cleared. So, I got $3,500 out and sent it to him. A thousand dollars stayed in my account,” she said.
Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox is all too familiar with what happens next.
“So you think you’re a big winner and in about a weeks time, your’re going to find out that not only is the check that they sent you is no good, the check that you sent them has already been cashed. You’re going to be out the money that you sent them,” he warned.
That’s exactly what happened to the Flakes. The $4,500 check was returned. They now have to repay their bank. In a large majority of these cases, fraudsters aren’t even in the country. Sheriff Cox says the chances of getting the money back are slim. His best advice is to hang up, because he says the crooks are persuasive.