By Ron VandenBoom
A man identifying himself as an officer with Canadian Customs phoned a Havre resident Thursday claiming to be the bearer of good tidings, but the Havre Police Department warns that this Santa Clause might in fact be a Grinch.
The man told a resident identified only as Robert that he had won $125,000 and to claim his prize he needed to pay a $1,000 duty for the check to be delivered. The supposed customs official also told Robert he needed to send $1,500 for air fare so someone from their office could personally deliver the check.
The caller said the the check would be issued out of Royal Canadian Bank in Montreal, Canada. He also claimed the money could not be wired directly to Robert's bank account.
The caller gave Robert his name and badge number and said he would call back in about 10 minutes.
Robert used the time to contact the Havre Police Department and was told to ask for the supervisor's name and badge number, a physical address of duty station, and a phone number when the man called back.
The Havre Police then contacted the FBI, and the U.S. Border Patrol to make further inquiries.
When Robert received the second call he obtained two phone numbers and an address.
Havre Police called both numbers and one had been disconnected and the other was an answering machine.
Robert alleges the customs officer was high pressure, telling him not to worry claiming he was an official with the Canadian Government and could have a plane out that day to personally deliver the check.
The demanded air fare now dropped to $1,000 when Robert explained that it was all he had, and he was then told to wire his money to a Quebec address.
Robert later informed the police that he received another call from the solicitor asking whether he had sent the money. Robert told him no and asked him to fax the front of the check to him.
The solicitor then hung up on him.
The Havre Police Department advises Havre area residents that all the evidence seems to indicate an active scam currently being worked in the area. They warn residents to be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls offering cash awards and asking for money.
Anyone receiving such phone calls should call the Havre Police Department immediately at 265-4361.