CBS 17’s Steve Sbraccia confronts caller in gift card lottery scam targeting Clinton woman

Investigators

CLINTON, N.C. (WNCN) — A Clinton woman who was repeatedly losing money to criminals discovered she was being scammed when she saw a report on CBS 17 about how the schemes operate.

When CBS 17 Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia went to interview the victim, Sbraccia was able to confront the scammer and prevent the woman from losing even more money.

It was the report on Tuesday that tipped off Edna Bass that she had been victimized by a scammer who told her she’d won the lottery.

“He said ‘you have won $8 million and a new Mercedes car’,” said Bass.

But before she got the money, he told Bass she needed to pay taxes and fees of $250 and to buy a gift card for that amount.

“I gave him the numbers from the front and back, and that’s the way it started,” she said. “He called again and said that wasn’t enough.”

The criminal had her buy gift cards for another $300.

Over and over he called back. By Tuesday of last week, she’d given him $1,600. That’s when she found out she was being scammed as she watched a CBS 17 consumer report on gift card scams.

“I saw it on TV, on channel 17, a lady said she got scammed,” Bass said. “My heart dropped into my stomach and I started to cry.”

Bass agreed to do an interview to help others avoid being scammed, but while we were talking to her the scammer called again.

We asked Bass to string him along.

“I couldn’t come up with the $300,” she told the crook.

He asked, “How much more can you come up with. I want to wrap this up today. How much do you think you can get on the card?”

“Maybe $100, because I don’t have much,” she told the scammer.

Not satisfied, the criminal keeps digging: “Can you get $200?”

“I might have to borrow it from my sister,” Bass replied.

“It was supposed to be $350,” says the scammer. Still trying to push her, he added, “Could you get $250?”

“Maybe,” said Bass.

The scammer realizes that’s it, saying: “OK, $250 will work. So how long do you think until you can get it done?”

At that point, Sbraccia intervened, taking the phone and telling the scammer that Bass was on to him.

The scammer hung up, and Sbraccia blocked his number from Bass’ phone.

She filed a report with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, but she realizes it’s unlikely she’ll get her $1,600 back.

Her message to others: “Don’t pay anyone with a gift card. It’s a scam.”

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