Greenville woman loses $200 in scam

Published 5:36 pm Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Greenville woman lost $200 in a phone and mail order scam and wants to warn her fellow citizens about it.

Shirley McCoy said she received a phone call from a person identifying himself as a representative of the U.S. government. The caller promised McCoy $8,000 in federal funds. The catch was she had to send a $200 fee by money order. McCoy said the caller, who identified himself as Alex Smith, knew information about her, including where she lived although he asked her to verify the last four digits of her social security number.

McCoy said she did as asked, transferring the money through Western Union at Piggly Wiggly.

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“With the economy being so bad, I didn’t know,” she said.

McCoy said she called the number Smith had given her. He answered the phone and asked her for the confirmation number, which she gave him.

“He said he had to leave the phone for a minute to check on something and to hold on,” she said. “But he never came back to the phone.”

She called back. Smith answered and said there was a mistake because McCoy signed the money order with her middle initial “C.” He asked her to send another $200 to correct the mistake.

McCoy contacted Smith – who speaks with an Indian accent – at in the office of The Advocate on Monday. When questioned, Smith could not identify what government agency he represented, became angry and asked for McCoy to be returned to the phone.

McCoy’s $200 was picked up by an individual in India.

McCoy said she wants to save others from learning a painful lesson.

“They got me,” he said. “I just don’t want them to get other people, especially here during the holidays.”

Western Union offers the following tips for issues of suspected consumer fraud:

– Never send money to a stranger using a money transfer service.

– Beware of deals or opportunities that seem too good to be true.

– Don’t use money transfer services to pay for things like on-line auction purchases.

– Never send money to pay or taxes or fees on foreign lottery winnings.