Mrs. Johnson was hosting her regular card game in Alice on Thursday evening when she received a call she had won the Publishers Clearing House prize, according to APD Chief Randy Weems.
"She was instructed by the caller, George Lopez, that she had to act fast as camera crews were on their way with her new Volkswagen car and years worth of gas," Chief Weems said.
The woman was instructed by the caller to purchase a gift card from Wal-Mart or Walgreens in the amount of $399.28.
"She asked why she had won the prize, since she had never entered any contest," Chief Weems said. "She was told that she was entered after shopping at H-E-B."
Chief Weems said the man informed Mrs. Johnson that the money was to pay for freight for the car, of which she had her choice of colors.
"The man said vehicle was registered in Texas and was personally bringing car," Chief Weems said.
The man called back and asked if she was ready and left a phone number for her to call when she was ready.
"By this time, she had called and we assigned our special crimes unit to the case," Chief Weems said.
Cpl. Nicolas Juarez and Sgt. Rolando Lerma arrived and posed as guests in case someone actually showed up to pick up the gift card.
"Mrs. Johnson called back and the man asked for card number because car was being held at Corpus Christi car lot because she needed to pay freight," Chief Weems said. "She was assured by this George Lopez that this was not a scam.
Mrs. Johnson told the man she couldn't see that well to read the numbers and invited him to come get card.
"Cpl. Juarez then posed as her son and spoke on the phone with the man," Chief Weems said. "At that point, he determined that the man had no intentions of delivering any vehicle."
The caller was then advised he was actually speaking to an Alice Police Officer with the Special crimes unit.
Cpl. Juarez reported that the man sounded African or middle eastern, not Hispanic, as his name might indicate.
"The man became irrate, using curse words and said he was not even in America," Chief Weems said. "He dared the officers to try to find him and hung up phone."
Chief Weems said the case appears to be very similar to international scams taking place throughout the United States.
"I will be forwarding the information in the case to the FBI," Chief Weems said. "I caution citizens to question people when something sounds too good to be true. Never give out personal identification or credit card numbers."
Anyone wanting to report similar scams may call APD at 664-0186.