ELIZABETHTON — Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said he will work to get federal investigators on a case in which an elderly woman was scammed out of more than $62,000.
“It becomes a federal crime when telephone lines are used across state lines to commit a crime,” Mathes said. “I have talked with the FBI and they have thousands of cases like this, but because of the amount of money lost, we will ask for federal assistance.”
Mathes said the victim was Dorothy Forbes, 74, who told Sgt. Kenny Cornett about the scam this weekend. Forbes said she had received a phone call in September telling her that she had won $1.5 million from a lottery in Las Vegas.
The caller told Forbes she would have to pay some fees in order to claim her prize. Forbes showed Cornett numerous receipts in which she had either wired money or mailed money to various locations. Cornett reported that the total amount from all the receipts was over $62,000.
Cornett said Forbes finally realized she was the victim of a scam and reported it to the sheriff’s department.
Cornett said that while he was taking Cornett’s statement at her home on Saturday the phone rang and it was someone claiming to be the FBI and they were investigating. When Cornett got on the line and identified himself, he said the caller hung up.
“These people prey on the elderly,” Mathes said of the scammers. He said he has worked to get the word out to prevent the scams and gets frustrated that victims are still being found.
“I tell everyone that a get rich quick scheme is just that, it is for someone else to get rich off you,” Mathes said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
“I even receive them on my email as sheriff,” Mathes said. He warns everyone to be cautious.
He said one woman called him recently after receiving such a phone call asking for up-front money. Mathes said the woman told the caller that they could trust her, she was such a good friend of the sheriff that he would be there to welcome them when they brought her the prize. She said they hung up immediately.
Mathes said any caller who would not give a call back number or address should be treated with suspicion.