SMITH: The phone crooks and Mrs. Miller

Della Miller, who's 89 and lives in Sebastopol, wanted to believe the friendly men who phoned her several times in recent days.

They told her she'd won $2.5 million! To collect it, she needed simply to put $200 on a Green Dot MoneyPak card, available at drug stores.

Della's smart, a retired RN and Analy school nurse. Though sorely tempted to play along on the slight chance it was real, she felt pretty sure it was a scam.

So she told me about it. She said a caller told her a team would deliver her winnings at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, and she should buy a money card beforehand.

I told her I'd come be with her. So she wouldn't have to lie about having the MoneyPak card, I stopped and put $200 on one at a CVS. But I didn't scratch off the gray strip to get to the serial number.

At her home, I told Della my guess was that there was no prize delivery team, and that the crooks on the phone would do everything they could to get her to read off the serial number that would allow them to seize the $200 from the card.

The calls began at 2:54 p.m. One man, then another, sweet-talked Della, assuring her the delivery team was nearby and would pull up once she read off the number on the MoneyPak card.

Della responded that she'd give up the number once she received her winnings check and her bank verified it.

"Sweetie, be assured," one of the two creeps told her. "I am a good person. You are in good hands. Give me those numbers so everything can be processed."

Della let me talk to him. I told him I'd like to see him go to prison for scamming elderly people. He replied that he wasn't doing all that work to try to steal $200.

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