With so many Americans facing financial crisis, an increasing number of scammers are attempting to take advantage of desperate people with high hopes. They’re sending fake checks along with a letter informing the victim they've won a contest. All the winner has to do is send back a portion of the prize money. If you actually entered a contest before getting one of these letters, you’d have no reason to believe you were being targeted. That’s what happened to JoAnne Grucela of Fernley.
Even though she filled out an entry form for a Reader's Digest contest something about the prize letter made her suspicious. She called the number and was assured by the agent that the check was good. The he said money was hers to keep. “He called me the next morning on my cell phone,” she says “he said to get $1,950 dollars then call him and he'd tell me where to take it.” With that call Grucela and her son decided more investigation was warranted. She looked up the customer service number for Readers Digest. That's when an operator confirmed, the win was actually a scam. Ironically, she says, the crooks may have found her information through the company she trusted. According to the operator she talked to, hackers may have taken her name and address from her actual Reader’s Digest contest entry.
Lyon county sheriff's officers determined that the scammers were in Canada, far out of their reach. For now, Grucela's only course of action is to file a complaint in hopes of preventing the same thing from happening to others. She says even though she didn’t lose any money to the scammers, the experience has taken an emotional toll. “In today's economy we basically live check to check, and I thought this would give us a chance to catch up and that God had blessed us... but I was let down.”