Former FBI Director William Webster Helps Foil Elder Fraud Scam
Former FBI Director William Webster and his wife were the targets of a Jamaican lottery scam in 2014. They assisted in the FBI's investigation, which led to the arrest and conviction of Keniel Thomas, who was sentenced in February 2019 to nearly six years in prison.
William Webster: I get more calls than you would anticipate. And this one sounded like I had won something—congratulations and so forth.
Caller: The total value of the award is about, it is about $72 million.
Caller: $72 million. You are the first-place winner. And the reason why I have selected you to give you this amount because I do some of your background check. I know that you was a judge, you was a lawyer, you was in the U.S. Navy, Homeland Security, the basketball team, and all of those stuff; I do your background check.
Title: Scammers often find personal information about their potential victims.
Title: In this case, Keniel Thomas failed to discover that Judge Webster is a former director of both the FBI and CIA.
Webster: In this particular case, I think my wife heard me having a conversation and was protesting in her own sweet way, that playing around with somebody like that, don't string him along.
Title: The caller told Judge Webster to send him $50,000 in taxes and handling fees to receive his $72 million prize.
Title: Judge Webster and his wife, Lynda, helped the FBI catch the scammer with a series of recorded phone calls.
Webster: Later, I don't know how the conversation turned sour. But it did. And at that point he shifted gears. Instead of sweet talk he began to threaten her.
Caller: Hey, I know you are playing around, right? You know what I am going to do? I won’t call you back. I am going to kill you. I am going to kill your husband. I am going to set your house on fire. Because you seem to be playing around and you doesn’t know who am I. So listen. I am not giving you anymore warning. I am just going to send out my guys. And listen. Anytime you put back yourself in Washington, D.C., you will be killed. With a sniper. I know your home. You see, you live at the place where your home at. You live at a very lonely place. And the moment you arrive, I’m gonna put a shot in your head. I am going to burn your house down. I won’t, I don’t play.
Webster: As time went along I learned how significant the victimization of older people was. And that worried me. I was older myself, enough to be sympathetic with how older people without my, maybe, background and experience might react to the situation.
Title: Scammers prey on the elderly because they tend to be more trusting, polite, and likely to have savings.
Webster: The average older person doesn't get caught in a bind where the screws are turning on them. They think something good is happening. They want to believe it. They found out it’s not going to happen. They’ve often paid some money in order to get something that was explained was needed in order to go take the next step to get bigger sums of money coming their way.
Title: Keniel Thomas collected at least $300,000 from dozens of victims in this scheme.
Title: He was sentenced in February 2019 to nearly six years in prison.
Webster: Older people like to think they're still valuable for one reason or another, regardless of what they’ve done. It was a game. Whatever it was, they were able to be convinced that they were about to get something good to show they were still in the money.
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