Franklin Countys First News

Farmington woman falls victim to scammers

The main page of the online sweepstakes website Prize Grab. A fake version of the website was allegedly used to scam a Farmington woman out of $375.

FARMINGTON - A local woman who was contacted through Facebook that she had won a new car and a big cash prize ended up losing $375 before she figured out it was a scam.

"I thought it was legit," explained the 30-year-old Farmington resident who didn't want her name used for this story, but she wants to protect others from falling for the scam. "I want people to be aware of it. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone," she said.

Four days ago, she was on Facebook and received the news through instant messaging that she had won a 2017 Range Rover and $500,000 in cash from the online sweepstakes website Prize Grab. She was congratulated on winning the "bonus prize" by a woman claiming to be the general manager of Prize Grab. The victim would later learn that it wasn't the real site's representative who had contacted her.

But, before she could receive her prize winnings, the Farmington resident was told she needed to send $100 "for shipping and handling." A man who identified himself as "Mr. Anderson" told her to send the $100 through a money order company addressed to Rajeif Sankar or Alrick Johnson at 14 King Street in Jamaica. "Mr. Anderson" also instructed her take a picture of the receipt and give the confirmation number of the money order check to him once it was sent.

In other phone calls, the Farmington victim, who is on Social Security Disability, was told "Mr. Waldo" is an FBI agent and will ensure the security of the transaction. She then received notice supposedly from the Internal Revenue Service that she needed to pay an additional $650 in tax fees for the prizes she's won.

She sent another $275 after she was told she could pay the total in installments if she didn't have the entire $650 available. She also ended up giving the scammers some of her personal information, including her photo ID.

"I gave it to them because I thought it was legit," the victim said on Tuesday. They had told her Prize Grab had been in operation for nine years. The male caller had an accent but spoke very good English. "He would get very mad and was very pushy," she said when she started to hesitate and ask questions.

On Monday night she researched the Prize Grab site and realized the scammers had just copied the real site to pull in victims to scam them. She found out that the real website doesn't initiate contact with those interested in trying for a prize. Instead, those wishing to participate submit their name and address to be entered into the sweepstakes.

"Last night at 2 a.m. I realized it was a scam. I had never had this happen before; I'd never won anything before. They made it sound real," she said.

She called the Farmington Police Department and the FBI to inform them of the scam. She confronted the scammers once she had figured out that they were just out to steal her money, but that didn't stop them from calling and harassing her.

"Just today alone they've called me 55 times," she said. "They keep calling and they scream at me. They keep asking for more and more."

The Maine Attorney General's Office has listed a number of different types of scams and common traits they may share that should raise a red flag if encountered. The page can be found here.

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24 Responses »

  1. "I want people to be aware of it. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone," she said.

    Nope, not anyone, some folks maybe, but not anyone. Sorry.

  2. This is scary..This woman needs to change her phone number quickly. The scams from Jamiaca are the worst..

  3. I'm with Ed..i NEVER EVER click on anything like this...if it sounds to good to be usually is!!
    I am sorry she was taken in by the scam.....but there has been so much publicily about these things....hard to believe people still get scamed :-(

  4. If someone asks you for money in order to award a prize, then you probably haven't hit the jackpot. If you send them the money then they are the ones who've won something, certainly not you. And you really are not likely to win a prize that you never even entered to win. The lottery tagline "You can't win if you don't play" is true- nobody is going to drop cash and prizes on you just because it is a sunny day. I think the root of this problem is that many people haven't yet realized that just being themselves is NOT going to get them an amazing reward. She is very lucky that she did not send more and more before realizing that it was a scam.

  5. About six months ago I got one thru facebook from a gal I know fairly well. After a few messages, I asked her how her brother some random answer that made no sense. I replied 'gotcha". You're a scammer and I'm out.
    I let her know her account had been hacked. Took care of that.

  6. Oh please. You just won a prize and you have to pay to receive it? And some people wonder why Facebook is a BAD idea!!! I have no sympathy for this woman at all.

  7. Facebook = Timetoilet

  8. How hard your life must be if you are the type of person that falls for this scam.

  9. When I get those calls,i say two,words,WILTON POLICE, I hear click, that's the end of the call,,,works everytime..

  10. didn't u know something was wrong when the money was requested to be sent to another country. oh well it can happen

  11. I have never gotten any of these calls or offers..

    Some of you make it sound like you are a crusty veteran that gets these every day and just flicks them of like fleas,,,,(this u r so much smarter than this girl.....).

    Why would you be getting these,,,I never do?

  12. If it seems to good to be true, then it is too good to be true.

  13. Just a note on another scam. I get calls from someone with a foreign accent telling me that they are from Microsoft and alerting me that something is wrong with my PC. DON'T do anything except HANG UP. They want access to your PC.

  14. The amount of fraud that is going on in the world is insane! Thank you for telling your story! Stories like this need to be shared. Some of you are like how could you fall for it? Well it happens all the time so shame on all of you for making her feel like crap I'm assuming she feels pretty bad already. She just lost over 300.00 and it sounds like she's on a fixed income. Just in our area there if fraud including Microsoft, someone's calling elderly pretending to be a grandchild stuck in jail and they need to wire money, there are so many a recent one? A phone call the caller asking can you hear me? You respond yes they now have your voice recorded saying yes! People we do need to share these stories they are taking advantage of our elderly and our people on fixed income! It's the fraudsters you should be pissed at.

  15. I agree Autumn. Shame on all you folks for belittling the victim. Yes, anyone can get scammed including all you people who think you are so much smarter than the rest of us. Get off your high horses.

  16. Some basic lessons (not belittling), that many people obviously need in this day and age- if someone contacts you, offers you money, tells you that you won a prize or owe a debt, or asks you for info, first identify if they are offering something you signed up for. No, there is not a random "network services" company monitoring home computers for fraud. I get that call weekly, and they're persistent. No, you will not win a prize that you did not enter to win. There are no websites that give gifts, prizes or merchandise unexpectedly to random people. No, the IRS, the police or any other large organization will not call you to demand immediate payment of anything. They will not email you. They will not ask for gift cards, partial payments, money orders, credit card or personal info or access to your computer or payments sent to an individual person or anywhere out of the U.S..
    You may think it is insulting that this is spelled out, but obviously many people fall for these scams, so perhaps it needs to be spelled out more often- the world is full of jerks who are happy to take advantage of you. Don't make it easy, exercise your bull---- detector so that you are not victimized. Do not be so excited (or frightened) by an unexpected contact that you allow yourself to be an easy target.

  17. To Autum and Ftown Bryan, there is a difference between being smart or dumb and being ignorant. And by the way, dont like horses, high or otherwise.

  18. Its easier to be scammed if you are a person who thinks you can get something for nothing.If you have always had to work for it,you will expect to work for it. Just saying,beware.

  19. I totally agree with Autumn...Dont make this person that was scammed feel bad.she thought it was true. Im sure many others have fallen victim to these calls too. I had calls from the IRS saying I had to pay money and pay now. I told them to take a flying #@%& on a rolling donut. IRS doesn't contact you by phone for one thing...i feel bad for this lady and im sure all that money she lost was money she couldnt really please dont make it out that she was stupid for falling for the scam....

  20. Yes Yeppers that's exactly what people need basic lessons! If the IRS scam hadn't been in the news so much if no one shared there story wether they felt stupid or not more people would have fallen victim to identity fraud. Education!! People sharing there stories!

  21. the lack of sensitivity and compassion exhibited by some of you goofballs here is truly shameful. This woman bravely disclosed her story in an attempt to help keep YOU all safe. While not everyone is as amazingly savvy and worldly as some of you wisenheimers, think about how you'd feel if this was a less-informed family member or neighbor that had experienced this. Would you allow her to be re-victimized and taunted by such smart-mouths?

    Shame on you. Apologize now, or go to your room until you can.
    Then go do a good deed for someone, and expect nothing in return; other than knowing you did the right thing.
    Sheeesh... :(

  22. Yup, I plead guilty and I apologize. Thank you, Mike, for bringing that to light. Very nice post. (now I'm off to do a good deed)

  23. I agree - I appreciate someone who comes forward with a story like this to warn others. We are all savvy at some things, more naive at others. Most of us have learned the hard way many times - maybe not exactly this kind of thing, but things that we now look back on and think "what was I thinking?" So don't judge, appreciate the fact she wants to let others know this is happening!

  24. Internet scams have been going on for as long as there has been internet. I remember some years back I got an email where the person said they were an African prince who needed to hide millions of dollars in my bank account. Then it was the popup, click here for your free ipod or whatever, who doesn't remember those annoying things popping up every 20secs. Now its the online survey. Those are aimed at the poor and clueless. Fill out surveys get cash and prizes. More like give out personal information, get scammed.
    What I would like to know is, how can people think that winning expensive prizes in a contest that they didn't enter, be be legit?