Banker warns of smooth talking scammers

(WMC-TV) – Smooth talkers convinced a Mid-South couple to send them more than a quarter of a million dollars. Bankers say their clients thought there was an $85 million prize in store when they fell for the scam.

Jay Knudtson said it all started when a man came into a Mid-South bank branch concerned his parents were being taken advantage of.

"They really truly believed they were going to be the recipients of $85 million," said Knudtson, First Missouri State Bank.

What is even worse, the callers managed to rip them off without one piece of documentation. They did it with nothing more than smooth talking over the phone.

The scammer managed to convince the couple they won a contest and needed to pay some fees upfront via Western Union, a process that is hard to track.

"And we think, 'How could somebody be so stupid?' But the fact of the matter is these guys are good," explained Knudtson.

Authorities discovered the couple had sent the callers almost $275,000.

"When authorities did get involved there was a planned meeting where the couple was to receive their big lottery, if you will, and the scammers didn't show up," Knudtson said.

They managed to trace the calls to a disposable phone in another country but police say the culprits will probably never be caught.

"You don't ever send any money for anything without full awareness of where you are sending it," Knudtson advised.

He said he cannot believe how easily the suspects forged a connection with the victims over the phone. It was a relationship so deep that the elderly couple still holds out hope they will see their $85 million.

"Even in the end he said, 'Jay, when they show up to bring me that money do you want to be there?' I gotta tell ya, in my years, I have never seen anything as sad as this," said Knudtson.

The FBI says there are so many reports similar to this one, they probably will not catch the culprit.

In this case, the couple's son took over part of their account so they are no longer sending off any cash.

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