86-year-old woman targeted by phone scam

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

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ATLANTA - An 86-year-old Atlanta woman is fighting back after being targeted by a notorious sweepstakes scam.

"I don't know why they picked on me.  I don't know how they got my number," Margie Alhart said.

Alhart told Channel 2 Action News that three times per day she receives calls from area code 876. Alhart's daughter recorded one of the calls.

"We have your prize to be delivered at your home," the caller says.

"He said, 'You don't remember winning a prize of $5 million?' I said, 'No I don't.'"

To receive the money Alhart would have to pay a $1,400 fee.

"It's scary to know that someone has your phone number and keeps harassing you, and especially wanting you to go to the bank and get some money," she said.

The area code 876, which originates in Jamaica. Officials say the scammers make around 30,000 calls a day targeting the United States, with a take of $300 million.

Consumer investigator Jim Strickland asked AARP associate Georgia Director Charima Young about the scammers.

"Absolutely despicable, terrible. But we have to be aware that they're out there," Young said.

"They're not just some petty thieves on the street.  This is something they've been practicing day in and day out," she said.

Young said those of Alhart's generation are sometimes too trusting. Alhart recognized the red flags, but still gets the chills with each ring of the phone.

"I don't want anyone else to have to feel like this," she said.

You can get the latest information on scams targeting the elderly at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call 1-877-908-3360 for a hotline where victims can share stories.