Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Cuts Right to the Heart

I received a fax letter from Brig. Tanko Ayuba (Rtd), Financial Adviser to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, saying that if I have not received my contract sum after the payment has been approved by the new civilian administration to contact the Chairman, Anti-Fraud/Compulsory Contract Commission, Dr. Norman Gerald on Tel:234-8034544598, Fax:234-9-2726746..

Then I emailed him mentioning as follows:

"Actually I paid your group EUR2950 through Western Union Money Transfer on Nov. 29, 2002 to cover a transferring charge and insurance, and then AVS Trading Company US$7800 for a stipulated fee through Bank of Overshore Banking Branch on Dec. 5, 2002.

It is with regret, however, that no funds have reached me yet, although I have received so many fax letters and phone calls from your country."

His reply was:

"This is to acknowledge the receipt of your mail. From the list i am having here you are the fifth person on the list. so you are required to forward to this office your banking particulars where you want us to make the transfer and your phone and fax number. Yours sincerely, Norman Gerald."

Japanese Surgeon 05/29/03

'Greedy' man duped of $330,000 in Net scam

He gets e-mail about a rich Nigerian dying without will or kin, and agrees to pose as a relative to claim inheritance; he's duped into pumping in money borrowed from friends, banks

By Ben Nadarajan - The Straits Times 11/03/03

WHEN the e-mail arrived, offering a chance to earn an easy $13 million, Eric (not his real name) felt compelled to reply. His elderly parents had been nagging him about his income as an insurance agent, which had dwindled in the economic slump.

However, instead of gaining millions, Eric, who is in his late 40s, ended up losing almost $330,000 as he was dragged from one tale to another over three weeks.

He became one of five Singaporeans this year conned by the slew of Internet scams, which start off with a personal e-mail.

Despite some reservations, he replied in July to the e-mail message penned by 'Anya Duruoha', supposed manager of the 'Diamond Bank of Nigeria'.

It spun the tale of a rich Nigerian killed in a road accident, leaving behind US$25 million (S$44 million) without will or kin.

Since the Nigerian government pockets any inheritance not claimed in five years, Eric was asked to pose as a relative. He was promised a 30 per cent cut, or about $13 million.

He had doubts and also felt it was inauspicious to take 'dead man's money'. But in the past year, he had been earning just $3,000 a month, half of what he used to make.

He provides for four children aged between nine and 15, a wife earning less than $1,000 monthly as a clerk, and parents in their 70s. 'I'm almost 50.

This was my only hope of ever getting rich,' said Eric, his eyes welling up a few times during the hour-long interview.

He received Duruoha's reply soon after, asking for his phone number. Eric was asked to transfer $17,000 to a lawyer handling the transaction and another $18,000 for the attorney's travelling expenses.

Duruoha told Eric to meet him in London with another $24,000 for a 'foreign allocation payment', a fee to transfer the funds out of Nigeria, and about $5,000 on a video camera and four watches to bribe Nigerian officials.

Eric emptied his savings. A tall tale awaited him when he finally met the Nigerian, a well-dressed and big-sized man, in his London hotel room.

He told Eric the bank had accepted his claim to the inheritance, after the submission of some basic personal particulars.

Eric was shown two metal boxes filled with black paper: cash, allegedly coloured to escape British customs' detection, he was told.

To quell any doubts, Eric was told to choose any three notes which the Nigerian then put in a pail, and poured in a special chemical that would remove the dye.

After a few minutes, he showed Eric three American notes. Eric was now convinced his millions were near. But there was a hitch: They had run out of the chemical and needed $258,000 to buy more.

Eric flew home to raise half - the Nigerian offered to raise the rest - sounding out friends and relatives, and even offering good interest rates for any loan.

'After seeing the money and coming so close to getting it,' said Eric, 'I was determined not to give up halfway.'

But a day after flying again to London and handing over the $129,000, the Nigerian showed Eric a bag of black notes with white powder on them.

He raged that his two helpers had botched the dye-removing job and threatened to sack them on the spot. The duo knelt to beg for mercy and Eric was moved to plead on their behalf.

The Nigerian said another chemical would correct the damage. But it was available only in Nigeria and cost $95,000.

Back to Singapore. More money borrowed - about $40,000 from various banks - and wired to the Nigerian.

Eleven days later, a new request for money came. A certificate was needed to transfer large sums of money out of Nigeria and into Eric's account. For the certificate, and more bribes, $390,000 was needed.

Incredibly, Eric still wanted to get the cash, and tried to borrow the amount from a close friend. But the pal warned that it could be a scam. After a few days in denial, Eric knew he had been had.

He said: 'I could not face the fact that I had been cheated of so much. I was also afraid that I had committed some offence.'

Finally, he made a police report here. Now, Eric is trying to settle what he owes - $40,000 to banks and $230,000 to friends. His HDB flat is up for sale. All in, including expenses such as travelling costs, he lost almost $330,000.

'I was greedy and I have to pay now for my greed,' lamented Eric. 'My wife said I use the handphone so much that my brain is damaged. I think she's right. She said my eyes can see only the dollar sign.

'I thought I could give my family a better life, but look what has happened now.'

Email Scam Snares Man

12/07/03 - Ohio - - A Coshocton man lost about $50,000 this week in a scam known as the "Nigerian e-mail scheme," said Capt. Jon Mosier of the Coshocton County Sheriff's Office.

The 50-year-old man, who is not being named in the continuing investigation, has been corresponding with someone who purports to be from Nigeria and calls him or herself Jessey Makoko, Mosier said.

Makoko sent an e-mail to the Coshocton resident in September asking to help him transfer money out of the country, Mosier said.

The local man cashed a $53,000 check from Makoko in his bank account, sent $50,000 of that check to Canada and kept $3,000 of it for himself.

The check bounced, and the local man now owes his bank the money he sent to Canada.

"He spent money he didn't have," Mosier said.

The sheriff's office is working with the United States Secret Service in the investigation.

Mosier cautioned all county residents to be wary of unsolicited business proposals.

"If it sounds like it is too good to be true, or it sounds like easy money, it's a scam," Mosier said. "No one is giving anything away for free."

Notorious e-mail scam finds believers

By Jim Stratton
The Orlando Sentinel

12/29/03 - ORLANDO, Fla. — In a windowless room, in a nondescript house on the other side of the world, Rupert Sessions glimpsed his fortune.

It was a metal suitcase, choked with $100 bills and protected by armed guards and a combination lock. The money had brought Sessions, an Ormond Beach, Fla., retiree, all the way to the Persian Gulf.

He and a West African associate were there to collect the $21.5 million in the case. But he was concerned because the bills looked discolored.

Don't worry, officials told him, that's just a security measure. We can clean the cash up.

Finally, Sessions thought, it's ours.

How scam unfolded
February 2002: Rupert Sessions of Ormond Beach, Fla., receives an e-mail asking for his help in moving millions out of a bank in Togo, in western Africa. In return, he is promised a cut of the money.

March 2002: Sessions' contacts in Togo begin asking for money to complete the deal: $5,000 for a medical certificate and $12,000 for an absentee-collector fee.

April 2002: Local authorities, prompted by a call from Sessions' son, tell Sessions the deal is a scam. He ignores their warning.

February 2003: After months of correspondence, Sessions travels to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where he is shown a suitcase full of money. The bills are coated in a black powder. To remove it, his hosts say they need $285,000.

August-September 2003: After Sessions pays to clean the money, his associates say the process turned the money red. They say they will try again for $60,000. Sessions gives up, saying he has no more cash. He estimates his losses at $320,000.

There was, of course, no $21.5 million. Sessions, a 73-year-old retired electronics specialist, had been fleeced by what may be the most widespread fraud on earth.

He had poured more than $300,000 into a "Nigerian 419" scam, the label describing the e-mails that promise millions but deliver nothing.

He sold stock, got a second mortgage and hocked two of his cars. For more than a year, he gave virtual strangers every dollar he had. He bought them gold pens, cellphones and a laptop computer. He spent so much that he now fears losing his home.

"It's all gone," Sessions said. "Everything."

Still, Sessions was so mesmerized by the well-spoken West Africans that to this day he does not think he was scammed.

He ignored police warnings that the deal was bogus and instead blames his losses on corrupt foreign governments.

He has not filed a complaint with authorities, and he keeps on his coffee table the carved wooden elephant and antelope given to him by his "associates."

"I consider them my friends," he says. "They're not criminals."

Authorities say they are, and they're part of a long-running fraud that takes its name from Section 419 of the Nigerian penal code.

The scam emerged from that country in the 1980s, with swindlers sending letters and faxes. The Internet broadened their reach to millions of targets.

Today, everyone with an e-mail address has seen the pitch: A West African lawyer, banker or dignitary wants to get a huge stash of money out of the country. If the victim helps, he'll be cut in.

As the mark gets hooked, he is asked to help finance the transaction. The payoff is always just over the hill.

Rupert Sessions' trip to financial ruin began Feb. 2, 2002.

A man claiming to be a banker in the West African nation of Togo e-mailed Sessions saying he was worried about millions of dollars left in the account of a dead German businessman.

The account had been dormant for years — ever since the businessman and his family died in a plane crash, the e-mail said. The "banker" needed help moving the money. Otherwise, the government would confiscate it.

That's where Sessions fit in.

All he had to do was fill out some forms and allow the banker and his associates to transfer the money to his account. Then the group would divvy up the cash.

Sessions was wary, but intrigued. His $250,000 nest egg had been scrambled by the stock market's slide. He and his partially disabled wife needed the money.

So he responded. Tell me more, he said, but don't ask me to do anything illegal.

No worries, his prospective associates replied. The deal was risk free. Trust us, they said.

And Sessions did. The more he corresponded, the more credible the West Africans appeared. They sent the German family's death certificates — "Certificat de Deces, Republique Togalaise" — and an inheritance document.

They earned his confidence, saying in one e-mail, "God has brought us together as brothers."

Sessions had no idea the story about the dead executive had been around for 20 years. He didn't know that the scammers routinely exploit a victim's faith in God.

And he never noticed that the "government documents" looked more like certificates a first-grade teacher might hand out.

Instead, he blamed — and still blames — corrupt government officials. If only they paid off the right people, he thought, the money would be released.

"With every move, the government comes up with another ridiculous fee," he said. "It's incredible."

Even more incredible is how much victims lose. The figures are fuzzy, but a 1997 U.S. State Department report put worldwide losses at "hundreds of millions of dollars" annually. Last year, the FBI said 74 people were taken for $1.6 million.

Most victims aren't taken for as much as Sessions was — the typical amount people lose is $3,800, according to the FBI.

The scammers are often well-educated and quick on their feet. The group, the State Department report says, "are the best in the world for nonviolent spectacular crimes."

And the most spectacular phase of their sting is the face-to-face meeting with the victim. To make the fraud work, the scammers need people to play guards, a chemist and government officials.

They also need a victim, and in this case they had a good one. By the time Sessions boarded a plane for the Persian Gulf in February 2003, he had spent almost a year preparing for the role. When he checked into Dubai's Marriott Hotel, he was more than ready.

Sessions had worried about this trip, but now, as he and one of his West African contacts rode through the city, he wondered if things were falling into place.

Their car stopped at a modest home in a Dubai suburb. The house, he said, was a quasi-governmental office — "almost like an extension of the Togo embassy."

Sessions said he was led past armed guards into a room with no windows. In the room there was a large, gray metal suitcase. In the case was the prize Sessions' had spent his life savings on: $21.5 million in stacks of $100 bills.

But the money looked strange. It was covered with black, chalky powder.

"What's that?" he asked.

Don't worry, his hosts said. Cash was routinely coated with the substance to protect it from being stolen and spent. It was easy to clean, they said; just watch.

A man wearing rubber gloves and a doctor's mask stepped forward. He poured a solution into a small saucer and pulled three bills from the case. He dropped the bills into the saucer and rinsed them.

A few seconds later, they emerged clean and green. Sessions heart raced as he inspected the bills. They were authentic.

But before Sessions could celebrate, the officials delivered the bad news: They'd run out of cleaning solution. They could make more, but it wouldn't be cheap.

The chemicals and continued security would cost $285,000. Sessions was stunned. But he was already in for so much, he felt he couldn't turn back now.

So Sessions took a $25,000 cash advance on his credit card — one of about 16 he'd gotten — while his associate promised to stay in Dubai to ensure the deal worked out.

When Sessions returned home, he and his wife sold or borrowed against everything they had left in stocks, insurance and annuities. He wired the proceeds to his partners.

Eight months later, they had all the money they needed. Sessions' share was between $60,000 and $80,000.

"You kind of lose track," he says.

With the money in place, Sessions planned a return trip. He bought plane tickets and made hotel reservations. But the day before the flight, his partners sent an urgent message.

The chemist had tried to clean the money, but it had turned red. His partners wanted to try again for an additional $60,000, but Sessions had had enough.

Or more correctly, he had nothing. There was no more money to bleed from him.

Sessions can't easily say what the last two years cost him. Between selling his investments, running up credit-card bills, depleting savings and borrowing against his house, the total comes up to about $320,000. Most of that is new debt.

Sessions, retired for a decade, is scrambling for work and putting his prized 1967 Cadillac convertible up for sale.

Anything to raise money.

To him, the scammers are corrupt foreign governments. His "friends" and the money are real.

"There was never any attempt by them to defraud me," he says.

Paul Elliott, a Secret Service agent in Jacksonville, Fla., said it's too painful for some victims to accept they've lost everything to a fairy tale.

There are moments when Sessions seems to understand. It's little things he says while leafing through the 3-inch stack of e-mails. Maybe part of him knows.

"I guess not knowing the people should have made me suspicious," he says. "They never did really explain how they got my name."

Today, the answer doesn't matter much. Sessions has more pressing things to worry about — like how to keep a roof over his head.

"I have to figure out a way to pay the bills," he says. "I thought this would help do that. Instead, it's ruined us."

419 Scam Claims Florida Man


Staff Writer

March 27, 2004, 6:55 PM EST

Rupert Sessions has lost his West African connection, but only after he went for broke.

The Florida man's financial unraveling began in February 2002 with an e-mail from Togo and fizzled last fall after Sessions, 74, ran out of money.

Before he realized it was all a hoax, Sessions said, he had emptied his bank account, sold his stock, taken out a second mortgage and maxed out his credit cards — for a total estimated loss of about $320,000.

"I've been wiped out completely," Sessions said in a telephone interview Thursday. "This looked like a sure thing, but of course, scams always look that way."

The retired electronics engineer from Ormond Beach, Fla., said he is about to file for bankruptcy and isn't sure where he and his wife, who has health problems, will spend their golden years.

Sessions' relationship with a person who claimed to be a banker in Togo began with an e-mail asking for Sessions' help in moving $14 million out of the country in exchange for a nice cut of the money — more than $1 million.

It was a classic "419" scam, so named because of the section of the Nigerian criminal code that outlaws such solicitations, whether by e-mail, fax or letter.

The cons usually ask the foreigner for "fees" to process paperwork and get permits to move the money, soaking the victim for as much as they can get.

Sessions initially sent money via wire transfers. Then he traveled to Dubai last year to meet his supposed banker friend and claim his share of the money.

But once he got there, there was a new twist.

By prearrangement, he met a man who escorted him past armed guards and showed him a metal suitcase filled with $100 bills in U.S. currency. The cash was discolored with what appeared to be a dark powder — a step taken, Sessions was told, for "security" reasons.

A special, expensive liquid solution was needed to clean off the powder, he was told. Sessions said he was given a demonstration of the money being cleaned and, having gone so far already, wanted to do whatever he could to seal the deal.

His supposed banker associate said he would stay in Dubai to keep an eye on the cash. Sessions coughed up even more money while in Dubai, including $25,000 in cash advances obtained through credit cards. After returning to Florida, he sent more than $35,000.

Since those final payments, his efforts to collect his share of the dough have been unsuccessful. All his e-mail inquiries to the man have gone unanswered, he said.

"Each time, it appears you've got to do just one more thing, and you've got it, but there's always one more thing," Sessions said. "We almost had our house paid for and we're going to lose it."

He's learned to accept that the money is gone and is focusing on trying to live on his pension and save as much as he can to find a smaller house for his wife and himself.

He continues to receive e-mail offers similar to the one he fell for, but now he doesn't write back.

"I am keeping them as souvenirs," he said. "I'm sorry I ever got involved. We weren't wealthy by any means, but we could have gotten by with what we had. But now it's uncertain."

Forget About Promotions

LONDON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A Scotland Yard detective has lost $9,000 to a Nigerian fraud gang his colleagues were actively investigating, the London Sun reported Monday.

The unidentified officer in his 20s was about to hand over another $45,000 to the scammers, but was stopped by alarmed fellow officers.

He had been told by a Nigerian fraud gang he would get a share of $12 million worth of gold bullion which would be freed by customs once fees had been paid.

One Scotland Yard detective told the newspaper he was astounded a colleague could be duped so easily.

Former city official loses $5G in Nigerian scam

By Jim Six - Glouchester County Times

04/02/04 - WOODBURY -- Stanley El told police he thought all along that Nigerian Prince Jide Lawal Ige was legit.

That's why El spent three weeks exchanging e-mails, flew to Spain, spent nearly $5,000 of his own money and ended up being involved in a scam to defraud Fleet Bank of nearly $50,000.

According to police records obtained under the state Open Public Records Act, here is how it all unfolded starting two years ago, on March 7, 2002, when El -- who later would become Woodbury's economic development director -- received one of those e-mails now widely known on the Internet as the "Nigerian scam."

According to the U.S. Secret Service, an American was murdered in Nigeria in 1995 pursuing such a scam and several other people have been reported missing.

Ige, 19, claimed to be the son of a Nigerian chief who had been assassinated. Ige had barely escaped to Madrid, Spain with his life, but his mother and sisters were still in Nigeria and still in danger of being killed.

The prince told El, a self-proclaimed investment professional, he needed help retrieving more than $30 million in cash so he could rescue his family.

El asked Ige for help with the airfare to Spain, but the prince said he had no cash available. El, who prides himself on helping young people, decided to pay for the $2,417 plane ticket himself.

Once in Madrid on March 24, 2002, El and the young Ige met with a mysterious Mr. James, who worked for a security company that had the chief's millions. There was an unpaid debt, however, that was holding up the exchange.

Since Ige said he had no money, El wound up volunteering to pay $2,000 toward the chief's debt. That seemed to meet with Mr. James' approval, and delivery of the $30.5 million was arranged.

Mr. James took El and Ige to a Madrid apartment where they entered a secret room. Inside were two chests. One contained $30.5 million in marked hundred-dollar bills. In the other were two containers of an unknown liquid.

Mr. James explained that the bills, marked because they were "scanned" when they entered Spain, could be un-marked with the liquid.

He demonstrated, using liquid from a small vial to remove the marks from one bill. He asked El to spend it as a test. El later used it at his hotel without complication.

By this time, it was March 27, 2002 and El had to get home.

"I passed this off as done when I got home from Spain," El said Wednesday. It was beginning to feel "like a spy novel," he said. He was out almost $5,000 by then and figured it was all over.

"I did what I could to help the young man out and that was it," he said.

Then he heard from Ige again. The prince said he would arrange for El's bank account to be credited with $50,000, which El could then withdraw and send back to Spain so Mr. James could buy a new batch of the chemical to un-mark the cash.

"I said, 'Well, if this guy's real, the money will be there. If he's not real, whatever.' I was putting it all on the bank. I'm thinking the bank will know if this thing's real. They'll identify it and this guy will go away or it will be real," El said.

He told police he believed Ige desperately needed his assistance. He sent Ige an e-mail, divulging his bank routing number and savings account number.

He received an e-mail from Ige on April 25, 2002 informing him $50,000 had been deposited in the Fleet Bank in Woodbury. El checked the bank and confirmed the deposit had been made. He began to withdraw money so he could send it to Ige.

El provided police with receipts from Western Union showing that, between April 26 and May 1, 2002, he'd sent 18 payments of $2,500 each to Spain.

El was in touch with Ige and Mr. James while he was sending the money. Before the last payment was sent, though, he asked Ige if he could take some of the money to pay for his trip to Madrid and to cover the $2,000 he'd lent the prince.

Ige insisted he'd already sent the $40,000 to Mr. James for the new batch of liquid and needed the final $10,000, as well. After consideration, though, Ige agreed to let El keep $5,000.

The final Western Union payment on May 1, 2002 brought the total El sent to Spain to $45,000.

The following day, May 2, 2002, the bank called to tell El the $50,000 deposit was no good. He would have to give the money back.

El called Ige, who said he couldn't understand why the deposit was being questioned. He told El not to worry, that the money would be re-deposited that day.

It wasn't.

El called Mr. James and asked that some of the $30.5 million be deposited in the Fleet Bank account to take care of the bounced check.

Mr. James said he couldn't do that, since the prince had given him only $40,000 of the $50,000 needed to buy the chemical needed to un-mark the bills so they could be used again.

Mr. James also cautioned El not to call Ige any more about the money for security reasons.

When he tried to call Ige and Mr. James after that, El told police, no one ever answered the phones.

According to the report, police were provided with a copy of the $50,000 check that had originated in North Carolina. It was marked "lost or stolen."

Steve Lubetkin, who handles public relations for Fleet Bank in New Jersey, said even though money from a cashier's check is made available immediately, that doesn't guarantee the check is really good.

"Funds are made available subject to clearance," Lubetkin said. He wouldn't talk about the El case specifically, but said if a customer has already used the money, "they could be on the hook if the check is found to be fraudulent."

El said Fleet Bank took him to court over the nearly $50,000.

In December, 2003, El said, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Camille Kenny ordered El to pay Fleet Bank $24,989.90. He believes the order indicated the judge felt there was some shared culpability in the case. El also said he never endorsed the $50,000 check.

"It came out as if both the bank and I were sharing the blame," he said.

Lubetkin was asked to comment on whether the bank accepted shared culpability in the case, but after two days and several telephone calls, he did not provide a comment.

"I didn't dispute any of it, because I was actually trying to help somebody," El said. He said he'd never heard of the Nigerian scam before this happened.

"If I thought it was a scam, I never would have went for it. If coming back here, the bank had said anything that would have caused me to have suspicions, I probably would have stopped it," he said. "I trusted them and it just didn't work out."

El said he has faith that God will see him through his troubles, which include recently losing his $33,000-a-year, part-time job as Woodbury's director of economic development due to budget cuts.

Despite the court order, no one from Fleet Bank has contacted El about repaying the nearly $25,000.

Nigerian Spanish Lottery Winner Loses Life Savings

STAMFORD, CT 01/05 -- A city man lost more than $40,000 he sent to two bogus international lottery companies who said the money would pay taxes and transfer fees required to wire over $400,000 in prize money overseas, police said.

Scammers posing as fake Spanish lottery companies have been targeting Hispanic immigrants throughout the state since last year, but city police said this was one of the largest fraud cases in recent memory.

The victim, a 42-year-old Moroccan man, sent more than a dozen wire transfers and Western Union money orders to accounts in Spain, said Sgt. Peter DiSpagna, head of the department's property crimes unit.

The transfers ranged from $115 to $6,910 and supposedly paid for export taxes and official looking "certificates" proving the victim had won the lottery, diSpagna said.

He said the money likely went to accounts the scammers opened using fake names and closed as soon as they withdrew the victim's money.

The scam began Sept. 10, when the victim received a letter informing him he had won over $92,000 in the International Lotto Golden Chance based in Madrid, diSpagna said.

Weeks later, he received a second letter claiming he had won $315,810 in the El Gordo Lottery Fund, also based in Spain, diSpagna said.

Through October and November, the two fake lotto companies sent the victim about a dozen letters instructing him that he would only receive official certificates and copies of his "winning ticket" after sending various payments.

Each time, the victim wired the exact amount of money requested and received signed certificates, but no money.

The letters also told him the prize money would arrive after he paid tariffs to the Board of International Revenue in Barcelona, diSpagna said.

"They really strung this guy along," he said.

According to the police report, which is more than 100 pages long, the victim made most of the transfers in October and November, diSpagna said.

He reported the scam to police this week because he still had not received any of his winnings.

DiSpagna said it was unclear whether the victim plays lotteries regularly, something that may have led him to believe he had entered the fake lotteries.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has repeatedly warned residents, particularly Hispanics, about the international lotto scams.

Police have said con artists favor variations on the "El Gordo" name because they think Hispanic immigrants may be familiar with the actual El Gordo lottery company in Spain.

El, the real company's official Web page, lists several phony names scammers have used in fraudulent mailings.

DiSpagna said the victim also filled out forms that required biographical information, including his name, address, date of birth and a copy of his passport.

He said the con artists may use the information to commit identify theft.

In September, an elderly Stamford woman received a similar letter from the El Gordo Spanish Sweepstake Lottery, claiming she had won more than $600,000.

The fake company said the woman would receive the winnings after sending certain personal information -- including bank account numbers -- to verify her identity.

The woman turned the letter over to police before filling out the form and likely falling victim to identify theft, police said.

DiSpagna said he would reach out to federal law enforcement agencies to help solve the case.

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