Internet scams: Sarasota woman targeted in online scam

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Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:16 pm | Updated: 5:54 pm, Mon Feb 24, 2014.

SARASOTA, Fla. - Last week we told you about seniors being targeted over the phone.

We continue our month-long coverage of protecting you against scams with the story of one Sarasota woman who was targeted online.

Wouldn't it be great to win $20 million? Gwen Calloway sure felt that way when she received an email a few years back indicating the large sum of money would be hers --all she would have to do is pay a processing fee.

Well $70,000 later, Gwen has yet to see a penny of that "money."

She describes the last few years of her life as a nightmare. “It has been the worst thing to ever happen to me.”

A thing that is becoming more and more of a reality every day, as scammers target people through email.

“It's much easier to use the online tactics and phone tactics, because if you have an organized group, you can blast out a fishing scam…it's like fishing with a net. You cast it out and see how many to reel in,” says Steve McDowell with the Sarasota Police Department.

Gwen turned out to be a trophy catch for a scammer who claimed to be from the U.S. Treasury Department, offering the 76-year-old a sum of $20 million in exchange for some processing fees.

“I was paying $1,000 a month for this money. I needed the money badly,” says Gwen.

She ended up sending the scammer a total of $70,000. “I have been so robbed and have not been able to go out and buy anything. I haven’t been able to do the things that I like to do.”

Greg Welsch is Gwen's new friend and caretaker. He's making sure she doesn't get fooled again. “She is not the only one that is a good person that will believe something.”

As for Gwen, any time a bogus email enters her inbox now, this is what she believes: “Leave it alone.”

Online money offers rank #4 on a list of top internet scams. To protect yourself, you should also be wary of online auctions, lotteries, sweepstakes, investments and internet access services.

Remember, never send money to anyone you don't know. And as always, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

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