Friday afternoon, a Havre senior citizen received a phone call telling her she had won $35,000.
Immediately, she became suspicious. It was great to win, but she hadn't entered any contests.
All she had to do was go to Walmart, the caller told her, and buy a green dot money card for $150, then call back to a phone number the caller provided. They would give her further instructions.
The inquisitive woman then asked where the caller was.
He said he was in New Jersey, and he was awaiting her call.
Wisely, the woman decided to do nothing.
Within an hour, she got another call from the same man.
This time, the senior citizen pretended she was a friend of the original victim, and the woman he wanted to talk to was asleep.
The caller became abusive, and the senior citizen hung up.
She was proud that she had beaten back the effort to scam her, but was concerned. How did the caller get her phone number? Did he know her? Another scammer tried to get money out of her last month. Was she on some list that scammers could target?
When the Havre Daily News called the phone number the woman had been given, it was disconnected. When the newspaper searched for it on Google, it turned up in eastern Pennsylvania just west of New Jersey.
How the scam was supposed to work was unclear, but it was certain that the Havre senior citizen had saved herself from being scammed.
John Doran, spokesman for the Montana Department of Justice, said the call was "a different variant of the same old scam."
Telephone scams are one of the hardest crimes for authorities to track down, he said.
While the telephone number may be tracked to the East Coast, with today's technology, the caller may have been in any part of the world, he said.
The best way to fight the scam is to do just what the Havre senior citizen did — hang up and ignore them.
People might be tempted to stay on the phone and find out something about the caller, she said. But in doing that, he said, the victim may slip up and provide some personal information that scammer could use.
A particularly nefarious scheme unveiled this week, he said, was a scammer who hacked into the phone system.
When he called people with caller ID, the victim's phone would flash with an "amber alert" sign.
"People thought there was a missing child, and they might be able to help," Doran said.
Often, scammers pretend to be bank representatives, and they ask victims to provide personal information, such as bank account numbers or Social Security numbers.
"Banks will never do that," Doran said. "If you get a call like that, you know it is a scam."