Victims of phone scam hitting Brazos Valley warn others

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX)- On Friday, Agustin Trevino received a phone call from an unknown number and automatically knew it was a scammer.

"The number was from Jamaica and they were saying that they were from Publisher's Clearing House, and that I won a Mercedes Benz and $3.5 million, and that I had to come to Walmart to give them $500 to pay the taxes," said Trevino.

Trevino didn't fall for the scam, but unfortunately his mother got the same phone call and thought it was real.

"They're so convincing. They get three or four people on the line telling her the same story and, by that time, you feel like maybe this is true," Trevino said. His mother was told that she had to pay $500 for the taxes, but could only use a Walmart money gram.

"He didn't need her credit card information. All he wanted her to do was transfer the money with a Walmart money gram, so she went and transferred the money," said Trevino.

During the transaction, Trevino's mother was on the phone with the scammer trying to persuade her that it was not a scam.

"She told me that the guy was telling her that she was doing the right thing and that there will be someone to giver her the money as soon as she transfer $500," said Trevino.

After the transfer, Trevino's mother goes back to her car, but the scammers told her to send an additional $200 to pay the shipping fee.

"By this time, she told me she was upset and started thinking that it was a scam, and she is crying, but they are so convincing," said Trevino.

While she was about to transfer the additional $200, Trevino's mother overheard Lorie Honnas. She was with a coworker that got the same exact call.

"The lady was listening into our conversation and then asks me and my coworker if she also won a car from Publisher's Clearing House. That is when I knew that it was a scam," said Lorie Honnas.

Both Honnas' coworker and Trevino's mother were on the phone with the same people.

"I looked up Publisher's Cleaning House scams on my phone and showed both of them the signs. That is when we immediately called the company and told them about the fraud," said Honnas.

Luckily for Honnas' coworker, she didn't transfer any money. Unfortunately, Trevino's mother was out $500.

"We're going to do everything we can to try to get her money back, but certainly, we want to make the community aware that they are targeting our community and it's something that we have to stop," said Trevino.

Kelley McKethan with the Bryan Police Department said phone scams are common and there are certain signs you should be aware of.

"There is always a common theme, like how you have to pay money to get something. The biggest one is that they want you to go to a convenient store and get what is called a green dot or some kind of gift card," said McKethan. Although many phone scammers use numbers from different countries, McKethan said that isn't always the case.

"A lot of times they are also spoofing local numbers. So, it may show up as a local number. The biggest thing is to never give out any information, no matter the number," said McKethan.