Scam artists strike out in Demop

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – Levera Gates was just a little leery of the phone call from the U.S. Customs office in Buffalo, N.Y.

A man who identified himself as a Customs agent told her he was holding a parcel from out of the country in her name containing two checks for $200,000. All she had to do was forward $2,800 to process the package through Customs.

She didn’t whip out the plastic or her check book.

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“I don’t know how these people get my name,” she said, saying it wasn’t the first time she’d been a target.

This time, her winnings supposedly came from Elgardo International Lotto, and she was given a toll-free number to call. When The Times attempted to call the number, a telephone company recording notified the paper that the number was unreachable.

A Customs official in Buffalo confirmed that the scam was typically run out of Canada.

“That’s been going around,” she said.

Jeff Manuel, public safety director for the City of Demopolis, said often times people fall for the scam.

“If something’s too good to be true, then it probably is,” he said. “People aren’t going to call you to give you money typically.”

His advice: “Don’t fall for it.”