By Wyatt Goolsby
MIDLAND - A Tall City woman said she was scammed out of thousands of dollars. It all started with a fake letter, supposedly from NBC. Now she's warning everybody else: don't get duped just because you see a name or company you recognize.
"I just hope and pray that nobody has to go through this past week and a half, nearly two weeks," 70-Year-Old Dean Lackey told NewsWest 9.
Lackey explained she's still rattled by the "Congratulations" letter she got earlier this month.
"That's where we go wrong sometimes is too trusting," Lackey said. "I am. I'm not giving myself any credit but I am too trusting, because I love people and I want to trust them."
The letter told Lackey she had won 125,000 dollars in an NBC International Sweepstakes. She thought it was just what she needed.
"For years, I have lived from paycheck to paycheck, and I have always wanted to give money to my church," Lackey explained.
Lackey said, at first, the letter seemed real enough: Logos for NBC and Financial Management Service. To get the money, however, Lackey said she was told to take an included 3,000 dollar check and send it by money gram to an address in Canada. She sent it and when the company asked her for hundreds more, she sent more. Nothing ever came back.
"I feel lower than an ant," Lackey said. "I feel like I've lost respect with people. I hope not, because I have tried to live a good Christian life and be an example.
"They use NBC because everyone knows what NBC is, who NBC is," Trish Powell, CEO of the local Better Business Bureau, explained. "They've taken that corporate identity, and used that reputation that they have developed to automatically gain the consumers trust."
Powell said Lackey is just one of many who have been scammed by these types of letters. Powell said the scam is not just aimed at the elderly, which is why no matter who you are she said to be careful and skeptical when reading your mail.
"They need to really think when something comes in the mail, [it is] going back to [the saying] when it sounds too good to be true," Powell said. "If someone sends me a check for over three, four thousand dollars, I'm wanting to know why. What are the consequences of me signing it and sending it back?"
For Lackey, she wants to make sure no one else gets scammed.
"If anybody is listening to me, and I can help you in anyway not to do this, I hope that this interview will do this job," Lackey added.
Dean Lackey said she has filed a report with the Midland Sheriff's Office, who has also told the FBI. Officials with the Better Business Bureau said in most cases, authorities are not able to recover the money the victims lost. That's why they tell us, it's a good thing to ask questions first.