Sweet Home, Oregon, really isn’t a very sweet place, at least for Janella Spears who is out $400,000 after falling for a well-known Internet scam. Yet, Mrs. Spears says she wasn’t a sucker or an easy mark.
Here’s the story. Janella Spears of Sweet Home says she simply became curious when she received an email promising her $20.5 million if she would only help out a long-lost relative identified as J.B. Spears with a little money up front.
Spears, who is a nursing administrator and CPR teacher, said she mortgaged the house and took a lien out on the family car, and ran through her husband’s retirement account. “The retirement he was dreaming of—cruising and going around and seeing America—is pretty much gone for him right now,” she said. She estimates it will take two years to clear the debt that accumulated in the more than two years she spent sending money to con artists.
Now, get this. Her family and bank officials told her it was all a scam, she said, and begged her to stop, but she persisted because she became obsessed with getting paid.
The scheme is often called the “Nigerian scam” and it’s familiar to many people with email accounts. It still exists and it still works.
Spears first sent $100 through an untraceable wire service as directed by the scammers. Then, more multimillion dollar promises followed so long as she sent more money. The scammers sent Spears official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and the United Nations. President Bush and FBI Director Robert Mueller were also involved, the emails said, and needed her help.
They sent official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and even from the United Nations, saying her payment was “guaranteed.”
But it wasn’t and now Spears is paying the price for her costly lesson.
First of all folks, if you have an extra $400,000 that you can get your hands on, just go ahead and send it to me. You’ve got as much chance of receiving $20 million from me as you do from a long lost friend or relative in Nigeria! Just send it my way, I’ll make sure it goes to a good use. Trust me. I promise. I mean it. I really do. Honest.
Family told her to stop. Friends told her to stop. Bank officials told her to stop. But, she couldn’t. She wouldn’t stop. She had to get rich. She had to get something grand for something little. A huge return on a “small” investment.
I’ll tell you what. The next time I get an email telling me that President Bush or FBI Director Mueller needs my help or I get a letter from the United Nations, I’ll know just what to do with it! Trash it. I won’t think about it. I won’t ponder it. I won’t count my treasure. The email or the letter will go right where it belongs. Either in the delete file or trash can.
Oh, I think I hear my inbox dinging. Could it be from a rich relative overseas?