Elderly woman turns the tables on a would-be phone scammer

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

PRIEST RIVER, ID -- There are dozens of scammers that prey on the elderly, thinking they will be an easy target. However, one woman in Priest River, Idaho turned the tables on the scammer and is not falling for what he keeps telling her over the phone.

Ruth O'Leary is an 80-year-old who loves to garden, rescue geese, and take care of her hens. However, she never expected to have to deal with a scammer calling her four or even five times a day.

For the past month, Ruth has been receiving calls from a man named James who says she has won $2.5 million dollars. All she has to do to claim it, is to first send him money for the winnings.

"You trust me," the scammer says over the phone. "Then, you send me the money and then I'll send you the amount back."

However, no matter how hard he tries, this con-artist is not pulling a fast one on Ruth.

"I shouldn't have to be begging you so much sweetheart, this is for your own good," the scammer said.

Ruth says she knew right away it was a scam and has even told the man that over the phone. However, regardless of what Ruth tells him, he tries a new trick everyday to convince her it's real. He has even attempted to prey on her emotions by telling her he wants to marry her.

"Sweetheart he said, 'I'm in love with you,' and I said you're out of your mind, you're crazy," Ruth said.

What's even crazier, is that by not giving in, Ruth got the con-artist to send her money instead.

"Then he said, 'I'll prove to you, I'll send you an overnight and I'll send you $50 dollars in cash and I'll send you a check for $4000,' Ruth explained.

Now, Ruth has a fake check for $4,000 the scammer wants her to deposit and then immediately wire him $3000 of it back. When people fall for this type of scam, they usually send the money before realizing the check is fake. But, not this time.

"He said, 'ok then you send my $50 dollars back' and I said, no I'm not sending it back for all the trouble I've gone to answering the phone," Ruth said.

This has been going on for days, but the scammer keeps asking.

"No way, I'm keeping the $50," Ruth said. "And he said, 'I will call police and have you arrested.' I said oh, ok, go ahead. I said in fact, I'll call the police for you if you want me to and we'll see who's arrested."

Ruth took the check to the bank and reported it as fraud. She also called her local sheriff's office to report the man. However, since he is not in the United States, the only way she can make the calls stop is by changing her phone number.

Read more:

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.