NBCMiami talks to a person in Jamaica using the same cell phone number as scammers who ripped off $370,000 from an elderly South Florida woman.
The 79-year-old victim, whose identity we've agreed to protect because authorities fear her scammers are a danger, left a Broward County courtroom Tuesday afternoon after being deemed “incapacitated” so her bank accounts could be frozen.
She wanted to continue paying the scammers, even though she'd already paid hundreds of thousands without getting a dime back. The scammer told her the large sum was for bogus "fees" in exchange for a non-existent $7.5 million Jamaican lottery jackpot.
"I could not convince her,” the woman's financial adviser, David Treece, said outside the courtroom. "Nobody could convince her. It's a sad, tough case."
Treece tried in vain for months to get authorities to take action, but none was taken. So he finally had to hire a lawyer himself and take his own client to court.
"And if I know this money is going to criminals, I'm not going to facilitate it," he said.
Once the scammers knew they had her, they actually came to the victim's house in a tidy Broward neighborhood, according to court testimony, posing as lawyers for the Jamaican attorney general trying to devise a bigger payment plan for her. They called her neighbors, say court documents. They even posed as FBI agents trying to charge her to get her own money back.
So entwined was the woman with her scammers that phone records show she called Jamaica and the U.K. 163 times in one month alone. From one minute calls up to 85 minute calls. Her phone bill for that month: $536.18.
So NBC Miami called the scammer's number in Jamaica, and the woman who answered admitted to knowing the victim and wanting her money. She said the scammers stole her phone number, and she's getting calls from many scam victims, who she's more than happy to relieve of their cash.
"If I had a way to take (her) 35 thousand, 45 thousand, 25 thousand, honestly to God, I would take it. Honestly, I would," the woman said when contacted Wednesday. "I'm not connected to those friends. I don’t know those friends. But you don’t tell me that it's hard to believe. I'm telling you something, if I knew how to get her money, I would take it.
"If she calls me anymore and tells me that she has any more money, I am going to take it."
The woman also claimed the scammers are threatening her for taking back her phone number and effectively shutting them down.
Guilty or innocent, she said she's unafraid to talk to American authorities, if they call.
The victim's money was going fast but, now that the bogus payments have stopped, Treece said she still has enough for retirement.