A county woman was bilked out of money after falling prey to a scam originating in Jamaica from a caller claiming to represent Publishers Clearing House, according to the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim spoke with Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Bannowsky and told him she received a call from a person claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. The person said she won $5.9 million, plus a new Mercedes.
The report stated that the woman was told she needed to obtain $2,500 in Green Dot MoneyPak cards to ensure delivery of the prizes. She said that, after she purchased the cards and obtained the scratch-off numbers, she would need to get an additional $1,000.
The woman said she then figured it was a scam and later learned the money had been taken from the cards.
The report stated the scam originated in Kingston, Jamaica. Bannowsky also received a call last year from the same scam artists.
Bannowsky recently spoke to the person on the victim’s phone and identified the person as being the same one he spoke to last year. The report stated that the man identified himself as James Jefferson, CEO of the Mega Million Sweepstakes, and that he had a call-back number of (876) 898-9696. Bannowsky intercepted another call on the victim’s phone from someone who identified himself as Shane Goodman of CPO Fax Company out of Tennessee with a call-back number of (239) 676-4132.
After researching the phone numbers, Bannowsky learned the one from Goodman originated in Bonita Springs, Fla., and the number for Jefferson was from Jamaica, the report stated.
Last year, Bannowsky received a call from a man identifying himself as Thomas White with Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. He told Bannowsky he won $285,000 and that he would need to obtain a Western MoneyGram for $250 to secure the winnings.
During the conversation, White figured out that Bannowsky was not going to purchase the money-gram. He began to curse at Bannowsky, who then asked if he was a representative of Publishers Clearing House, and he said “yes.”
Bannowsky then asked to speak with a female he heard in the background, and upon speaking with her, he obtained an additional phone number. When he called that number, she said she was from Kingston, Jamaica. She told him her name, and Bannowsky later found the same name on Facebook that revealed she was from Jamaica.
White continued to call Bannowsky’s phone, the report stated, and Bannowsky informed White that he was a sheriff’s deputy in Oklahoma. White then hung up.
Authorities advise people never to agree to pay money to win money.
In other crime news, a jury trial concluded Tuesday for Billy Wayne Engles, 37, Mead, a convicted sex offender, who was found guilty of loitering at a “safety zone” at Silo School.
He waived his right to a pre-sentence investigation, and Associate District Judge Rocky Powers sentenced him to 235 days in jail. He was given credit for time served and also fined $2,500. He was arrested and charged in September 2013.
The trial for Engles began late Monday morning and it was only approximately one hour into the trial when a court clerk’s deputy opened an envelope that contained a white powder.
The courthouse was locked down and a hazardous-materials and a National Guard unit were called in to test the substance, which they determined was not dangerous.
The FBI is investigating the case.
Matt Swearengin can be reached at 924-4388 or Twitter@DDDEditor