Rise In Phone Scams, One Woman Saves Herself


WINCHESTER, Va. - “He started off this way, ‘Oh, Miss Anna,’ just like that, ‘You have won a big sum of money’," said Anna Popkins.

Popkins is a Winchester woman and the recent target of a phone scam.

"I said to him, ‘This is a scam,’ and he said, ‘Oh no honey, I wouldn't do that to you. I'm a deacon in the church’," said Popkins, while recounting her scamming experience.

Luckily, Anna wasn't convinced but went along with it anyway.

"He said, ‘Now this is what I want you to do. Don't you tell nobody, don't you tell none of your family, no one. This is just between you and I’,” said Popkins.

Winchester police say her story is typical of phone scamming victims.

"In a lot of these cases, they're telling the person on the other line this is a big secret, don't tell anybody,” said Lauren Cummings with the Winchester Police Department.

The scammer, who went by the name Robert Green, gave Anna a secret password and told her that in order to receive her winnings, she needed to go to the store, buy a $500 prepaid card, and mail it to him.

Police say that's a give away.

"You never have to get money to receive money," said Cummings.

Anna told WHAG that her scammer knew an unnerving amount of personal information, including her home address, her marital status and how much she paid for her car.

Police say that unfortunately information like this is a quick Google search, or phone call away.

Thankfully Anna was wise enough to out-smart her scammer, who wasn’t too happy to find out she called the police.

"Man he got furious,” Popkins said. “[The scammer] said, ‘I'll tell you now, I’m going to sue everybody that's trying to tear down my company.’ And then he said, ‘Sweetheart,’ and then I said, ‘Don't call me sweetheart.’ And I hung up on him."

Tips To Protect Yourself

Courtesy of the Winchester Police Department

  • If It sound too good to be true, it usually is.
  • You never have to send money, to receive winnings.
  • In computer scams, be wary of callers who claim they can fix your computer problems. They’re usually logging into your computer and stealing all of your personal information, or they do nothing, and then try to charge you for a “service.”
  • Never give out any personal information to anyone who calls you.
  • Be wary of unknown numbers. When in doubt, don’t answer.
  • Be wary of callers who use religion as an indication of their character.
  • Be wary of callers who tell you to keep the phone call a secret.
  • When in doubt, call the police, and tell friends and family members.

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