NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - When a North Fort Myers woman received a phone call stating she had won a million dollars and a Mercedes Benz, she thought her problems were over. Unfortunately they were just beginning.
The call was made by a man identifying himself as "John Williams." He told the woman that in order to process her winnings, he needed her to send $350...which she did via Western Union. Later that day, the man called again saying that $500 was needed for additional processing. The victim complied and sent the money again by Western Union. This led to a third request...this time for $1,500. The victim told the caller she didn't have that kind of money and that $160 was all she had left. The caller indicated that amount was fine and the victim wired the $160.
When it became evident to the victim that she had been duped, she filed a report with the Lee County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit. ECU investigators followed the money trail and were able to determine that all three Western Union wire transfers had gone to different locations in Ringgold, Georgia. ECU investigators forwarded their information to Ringgold police, who were able to determine the money was picked up each time by Karen Jones, of Tunnel Hill, Georgia. Jones told police she had been directed by "Mr. Williams" to pick up the money and send it to a person in Jamaica.
Jones is charged with several counts of Felony Theft. The investigation reveals she was likely victimizing other people as well.
Economic Crimes Unit supervisor Sgt. Keith Day says legitimate lotteries will never require people to send money to process their winnings. "If they ask you for money," he says, "hang up right away."