Scammers target Aurora man

Published 10:12 pm Friday, June 7, 2013

Another attempt at a scam failed Friday when a would-be victim contacted law enforcement instead of falling for the promise of $950,000 and a new Chevy Malibu.

Chief of Aurora Police David Kendrick said an Aurora man notified him after he became suspicious of a phone call in which he was told of his winnings, but claiming them required him to hand over an initial $380 via a prepaid Green Dot card.

According to Kendrick, the initial call (876-841-0659) came from a man who identified himself as John Baker and said he would deliver the new car from Jacksonville as soon as a confirmation phone call was made to another number, this one 876-488-4258. Kendrick said he called the confirmation number and spoke to a woman named Betty Morgan, who ultimately disconnected the call when Kendrick began asking her questions then identified himself as law enforcement.

“When you Google these telephone numbers, the other stories come up,” Kendrick said.

The two phone numbers crop up consistently in reference to scam attempts. While the stories are loosely the same, the names, places and prizes to be awarded vary somewhat.

The scam is known to originate from Jamaica, as do the numbers, but the two people Kendrick spoke to — “Betty Morgan” and “John Baker” — both had American accents, he said. According to law enforcement officials, the local accents likely represent another way scammers attempt to lure people into believing the scam is legitimate. Another way is by using programs like Magic Jack, which allow callers to purchase phone numbers that appear local regardless of the call’s origin.

Because the scams originate outside U.S. borders, the perpetrators are very rarely brought to justice, even when they have bilked individual victims of tens of thousands of dollars.

“It’s very hard for law enforcement to track this stuff — it’s almost impossible,” Kendrick said. “The best way to circumvent this type of thing is by educating the public.”

Though these scammers tend to target older people who may be more trusting, the 66-year-old Aurora man wasn’t falling for it, Kendrick said.