How One Sharp Consumer Outfoxed A Con Artist BY Warren Richey, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
In these excerpts from a 14-page transcript of an actual telephone solicitation, the target of the fraud ultimately triumphs.
The call is placed by Bret Mann (using the fake telephone name Dan Jensen) of Nationwide Marketing in San Diego. The transcript was used as evidence in a federal court case in which Mr. Mann was convicted.
The target of the solicitation is Martha Warnke of Jefferson, Iowa.
Mann: Well Martha, are you ready for some great news?
Warnke: Well, I've been ready for a long time.
Mann: Well you did it dear! You came out in the No. 1 position all by yourself!
Warnke: You're kidding.
Mann: And it looks like you're the one who's gonna be walkin' away with a $25,000 cash first prize. Isn't that incredible?
Warnke: Yeah it is.
Mann: ...Well, Martha, let me explain exactly what has happened to ya. Now, any time in the past those that received our major awards, well they always - they always were the ones that came out in the No. 1 position all by themselves. Those that have come out in the No. 1 position all by themselves have always, always walked away with that $25,000! Congratulations!
Warnke: Thank you.
Mann: ...If you do everything exactly the way that I've explained to ya, I'm gonna make you the happiest woman alive, Martha.
Warnke: Sounds good...
(Mann tells Warnke that in addition to the $25,000 she will receive a "beautiful radiant diamond cocktail cluster dinner ring set in solid 14- karat gold," an "original Norman Rockwell lithograph" and some "Nutritime Vitamins." But to receive the items and the $25,000 Mann says she must pay $2,995 as a registration fee and to cover taxes on the $25,000. When Warnke balks at paying that amount, Mann promises Warnke a "double senior-citizen discount" after learning she is 80 years old. The tax bill and fee drops to $1,495.)
Mann: I mean dear, I'm bending over backward for ya, to see you get this major award... Instead of paying $2,995, the full registration fee... it'll only be $1,495. That's it. Not a penny more. And that will secure your position on top.
Warnke: Yeah, that's all well and good but I can't send any amount of money. I guess I didn't make myself clear.
Mann: (He hangs up.)
Warnke: Are you there? (After a pause, she laughs.)