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May 18, 2005
Worth County- At least three people have called Richard Cook and his mother promising them $30 million. All they have to do is wire $3,000 to a company in Jamaica. Sound too good to be true? It is. Fortunately the Cooks caught on before it was too late.
It's a story we've heard time and time again. Scam artists preying on the elderly and taking their hard-earned savings, but the Cooks vowed not to let it happen to them. We were there when the bogus sweepstakes company called.
At 1:00 Juanita Cook's phone rings. Her son Richard answers, and so do we.
"Did you get the money yesterday," asks the caller.
"We have the money up we just haven't done anything with it until you called," says Richard.
"Okay let me give you the address," the man says.
The caller, who identifies himself as Ehewan Reid, gives Cook an address in Manderville, Jamaica. That's where he says to wire $3,000, money he claims he doesn't keep.
"It goes to the International Regulation. That means it goes to the government," Reid claims.
"Are you sure that she's going to get $30 million," Cook asks.
"$30 million today sir. As soon as you make the payment," Reid promises.
He tells Cook to call as soon as he gets a Money Gram pin number, and he will in turn contact an international courier service that will deliver his winnings.
"They will now in turn call you and let you know the precise time they will be at your door today," says Reid. "Today guaranteed."
It all started earlier this week when the caller asked to speak to Richard's 80 year old mother.
"I said now wait a minute. How much is this going to cost me? 'Well $3,000' ," says Juanita Cook. "I told him we didn't have that much money here. 'Well you go and get the money accumulated and have it sent through Money Gram' ," she says.
The Cooks were suspicious, but got close to sending the money. They say they even went to the bank and the teller confirmed their suspicions.
"These guys are so professional that they had me convinced. I'll admit it. I was convinced. $30 million I would have gone a bought me a new Harley Davidson," laughs Richard.< /STRONG>
They can laugh about it now because they didn't send the money and reported it to authorities. Now, they are hoping by sharing their story they can prevent anyone else from being duped.
"People need to know that this is happening, and its taking the money from their mouth that they really can't afford," Richard says.
"It needs to be stopped and if anyone would go ahead and report it maybe they can do something to get it stopped because it's a fraud," adds Juanita.
It's a fraud that even the scam artists ask Cook not to tell anyone about.
"One thing that you must do for me sir. You must make sure that when you go about your business, you do not explain your transaction, or explain your move of business," says Reid.
"Why is that," Richard asks.
"Keep your business to yourself. Because you do not want people to be intercepting your winnings. There are people in the system who can intercept your mom's winnings and we do not want that," says Reid.
Reid ends the call by congratulating the Cooks.
Worth County deputies are actively investigating the calls. They say the Jamaica address doesn't even exist and are tracking the number where the calls have been generated.
Deputies say if you have received similar calls do not give out any personal information, do not send any money. Ask for a number where you can call back and go straight to local law enforcement.