Elderly woman scammed $3K, AG's Office warns of more holiday scams

Elderly woman scammed $3K, AG's office warns of more holiday scams

There is an unfortunate list of local people being scammed. It's a lengthy one during the holidays, according to the Louisiana Attorney General's Office. 

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - "The scam artists like to prey on your sense of giving," said Sam Pleasant, Director of Public Protection with the LA Attorney General's Office.

Another name can be added to that list: 78-year-old Vivian Rowell, who is now a widow and living alone. But even getting used to not having someone else there, she now struggles with a new feeling of loneliness.

Recently, Rowell lost $3,100 in a sweepstakes scam.

"I haven't told anybody," Rowell said. "I'm just so ashamed of it, I guess."

Rowell said the first call came October 29. She was told she won a $3 million sweepstakes, but before claiming her winnings, she would have to wire money.

"When I went to send the money the first time, they asked me if I thought this could be scam. And I said, 'Well, it doesn't sound to me like it is,'" Rowell said.

That is because she was a frequent player of the sweepstakes the caller claimed to work for, The American Publishers Clearing House. So she listened, sending a total of $3,100.

Then, when the $3 million never made it to her front door she called the Baton Rouge police, who she said were no help.

"People would either tell me, 'You shouldn't have done it,' 'How silly could you have been,'" said Rowell.

Authorities said messages left on Rowell's answering machine should have raised some red flags.

In one message, a man can be heard identifying himself as "Michael," but he quickly change his name to "Mark."

Like the sweepstakes scam, the AG's Office is also calling out a new warning about phony charities and fake websites.

"Keep up with all of your credit cards if you're out and about shopping, and if you're at home make sure you're using a secure website to make purchases online," Pleasant said.

"I just don't want anyone else to have go through this," Rowell said. "And I realized that this won't be the end of it, but at least somebody will know that they're out there."

Anyone who thinks they might be a victim of a scam is urged to contact the AG's Office. They say depending on the case, they might be able to help victims recover their money.

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