ROY -- A woman's cautious, inquisitive nature saved her from being a scam victim Wednesday, because she knows you can't get a quarter-million-dollar payoff from a $100 investment.
The 82-year-old woman, who asked to not be identified in this story so she isn't targeted by other scammers, wants other people to know about the scam routine so they don't let their financial desperation or greed and an authentic-sounding offer make them a victim.
"I know there are a lot of people out there who are having bad times, so this might look pretty good to them and they fall for it," she said.
The woman said she received a call Tuesday from the International Cash Award Committee that informed her she had won $255,000. She had never heard of the group and had not entered any contests, so she was skeptical.
"The caller spoke broken English and kept saying, 'OK?' That's what put me off first," she said.
Despite the caller's accent, the woman stayed on the line and was given a series of numbers that would identify her when the prize delivery people visited her on Wednesday with her $255,000 check.
"It all sounded so authentic. I was given a package number, a reference number and a secret code that I could give only to the man in the black truck who would deliver my prize," she said.
Her only obligation, she was told, was that she would have to pay 2 percent of the taxes due, which amounted to $100. She could pay the man who delivered her prize, she was told.
Another man from the award company called her Wednesday morning to arrange delivery, but this time, the caller had an American accent and a ready response when she told him she was going to check with police about the offer.
"He said I didn't need to call police, because he would have police with him when he delivered the check," she said. "He was supposed to bring two U.S. Marshals along with him."
At last, she told the caller she wouldn't hand over $100 and was told she couldn't claim her prize.
She called Roy police anyway, and Patrol Officer Trevor Barker checked into her claim. He said police get many calls about various scams, though this particular one was different from most.
"She was a smart lady to not give out any of her personal information," Barker said. "It can get really difficult if people give out their personal or financial information over the phone."
Because the woman hadn't lost any money, Barker took the information and filed a report.
Police Sgt. Danny Hammond said although the number of scams seems to be holding steady or increasing, the number of people losing money is decreasing.
"Banks are getting better at detecting these types of fraud, where people deposit a check and are supposed to wire money back to the sender," Hammond said. "The banks can lose money out of this, too, so they stop the deposits sooner."
The more people are educated, the better they are at avoiding losses that can't be recouped.
"Once that money is wired out and picked up, it's gone," Hammond said.
"We can't send an officer to Canada or the Russian Federation to try to get your money back."