Action by Pratt Post Master Crystal Easley and Postal Clerk Scott Elliot along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Pratt Police Department and law enforcement from Cook County, Texas helped stop a phone scam and recover a large sum of money for a phone scam victim in Pratt.

Alert action at the Pratt Post Office has helped a Pratt victim of a phone scam recover a substantial amount of money.

Paul Shade, postal inspector for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said the combined efforts of his office, the Pratt Postal Service, the Pratt Police Department and law enforcement in Myra, Texas, helped recover $10,825 in checks and cashiers checks.

Pratt Postal Clerk Scott Elliot said the elderly woman had come in to purchase a very large money order and seemed confused on how to make the purchase and where it needed to be sent. She was on the phone with someone, who turned out to be part of the scam, that was insisting it be sent over-night delivery. The woman came back later the same day and purchased another large money order then returned the next day to fill out a form to recall the check and send it to another address, said Pratt Post Master Crystal Easley.

This was done so the money would go to more than one place, Elliot said.

The woman was again talking with someone on the phone who was claiming to be a police officer, Elliot said. Elliot contacted Easley who asked the customer if she know the people she was sending the money to and she said no. Easley said she believed this was a scam and called the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Pratt Police.

Working with the women, the post office, Pratt Police and eventually the Myra, Texas sheriff's department, they were able to recover all four checks and return the money to the victim, Shade said.

The scam started when the victim received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Publisher's Clearing House who told her she had won $2.5 million and a new car. She was then told she would have to pay fees and taxes. All together there were four checks of $325, $500, $5,000 and another $5,000. Once the victim started sending money, more checks were requested and they got exponentially larger, Shade said.

Everyone needs to be alert to scams. If something sounds to good to be true, it usually never is true. Anytime someone makes first contact over the phone and wants money for anything, the person being called should verify the identity of the person calling before doing any transaction, Shade said.

Shade researched Publisher's Clearing House and fund that they never call a winner but show up in person at the house and never ask for money.

This was a happy ending to what could have cost the customer a lot of her money. Elliot's alert action to see a suspicious purchase and the attentiveness of Easley to recognize that something was going on helped get the victims money back, something that doesn't always happen, Shade said.

Easley said it was Elliot's alert work that got things going on this incident. Protecting the customers is what Elliot and all the postal employees strive to do.

"All of our clerks look out for our customers," Easley said. "I'm very proud to work in this office."

@GaleR_Tribune