Lewiston man outsmarts telephone scammer claiming he won prize

LEWISTON, ID - You'd think just answering your phone, whether you know the number or not is harmless, but it could be very damaging.

According to the Federal Trade Commission every year thousands of people lose money to telephone scams, from a few dollars to their life savings.

Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. One Lewiston man outsmarted a scammer who called him claiming he'd won $2.5 million and a Mercedes Benz, but he needed to give up a hefty sum of cash in order to get the prizes.

"And that was an obvious giveaway," said Lewiston resident Jack Metzker. "So, I tried to get some information out of him, but he was unwilling. He asked for a definite $495 and he said he was calling from Publisher Clearing House Company; I knew that wasn't right."

Jack did the right thing. He didn't give the caller any of his personal information... Instead he asked the scammer for all of his information. Then went to Lewiston Police.

"And if you're getting phone calls saying that you won a large sum of money, but you need to pay money to receive it, it's not true," said Lewiston Police Dept. Officer, Tom Sparks.

Officer Sparks also said another thing you need to do to avoid being a scam victim is make sure to pick up your mail every day, because sometimes you've fallen victim to identity theft even before the scammer calls you.

"If you're going out of town, even if it's just for the weekend, make sure you have a friend, neighbor, coworker or anyone who can swing by your house, pick up your mail and hold it for you until you get back," said Officer Sparks. "We see a lot of identity thefts starting at somebody's mailbox."

Metzker said he knows a number of people who are financially vulnerable and therefore susceptible to believing these scammers when they call.

"I'm glad to share the information, with the hopes of helping someone else from getting scammed," said Metzker.

if you get a phone call from a suspicious number... write it down and call your local law enforcement agency.