A 79-year-old Sun City Hilton Head resident reported to Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office that she had received a phone call from an unknown man who told her she had won $4 million from Publishers Clearing House.
The man told her that after taxes and fees, she would receive $2,665,000, but first she would need to pay around $70,000 in taxes to Beaufort County government.
In early January, the woman began communicating with a man known as Tom Tucker, whom she believed to be a representative from Publishers Clearing House. She was faxed documents that appeared to be legitimate. She signed the paperwork and provided personal information, such as her date of birth, Social Security Number, home address and phone number.
She was instructed to open two bank accounts at two area banks.
The scammers then faxed what appeared to be receipts showing that large amounts of money had been deposited into an escrow account in her name.
The woman made $40,000 in electronic transfers to two Wells Fargo accounts, one was in the name of Ann Le of San Antonio, Texas; the other was in the name of Lurelia Smiley of Orinda, Calif.
After this, the woman received notification from her bank that someone had tried to transfer money out of one of her established bank accounts.
The woman became suspicious and began the process of freezing her credit and trying to rectify the situation with her banks.