VINITA, Okla. — At her home in Vinita, KJRH found Dovie sitting alone, sick on oxygen, and without a penny to her name.
"I'm penniless now. They took all my money," Dovie said.
She bitterly regrets the day she answered a call from a number she didn't know. It's something she usually wouldn't do.
"I felt stupid. I felt plum stupid, but I had so much going through my mind that day," Dovie said. "Everything was going wrong that day."
When Dovie received terrible news about her health, emotional family issues came to a head, and then... the call. Dovie received a call from a man who claimed to be with the FBI and supposedly had a badge number, too.
"He was talking to me. They were confiscating my checking account because millions of dollars were going through my checking account,' Dovie said.
The man told her agents would show up at her front door at 9 a.m. the next day. The only way to keep the money in her checking account safe and secure was to quickly withdraw all her cash and buy four gift cards of $500 each.
Panicked, confused, and consumed by all the bad news of the day, Dovie said she did what she was told after a stern warning.
"He told me not to tell nobody nothing, nobody nothing," she said. "I should have caught it then."
Dovie remembers so many red flags. Even at the first store, she was told to buy the cards and was allowed to buy only two.
"They told me there were scams going on, and I said, 'No, this isn't a scam. This is important. I need to buy these.'"
All the while she was driving around Vinita, the sophisticated scammer kept Dovie on the phone, tracking her every move, pressuring her to make the next move.
After buying two cards, she was told to go to another store just down the street to buy more. There, they only let her purchase one card. So she was told to travel a few miles up the road to Ketchum and buy a fourth card there. On the way, she remembers what she told the caller.
"I'm just sick to my stomach, sick to my stomach," Dovie said. "I feel like you're ripping my heart out."
Still, Dovie said she spent her last $300 to buy the last card. In all, she had purchased four cards for a total of $1,800.
"When I got back to the truck, he told me to tear them open and read the numbers," Dovie said. "I said, 'No, this is a scam. You're scamming me.' He said, 'No, I'm trying to help you.'"
Dovie said in a moment of weakness, she gave the man those gift card numbers, and in an instant, all her money was gone and swiped by that scammer.
"Next morning, I got up, and I thought, my God, what happened to me," Dovie said. "You know, it hit me all at once. What happened to me?"
Now, Dovie has no money to pay her utility bills, truck payment, or mortgage. After making an honest living all her life, from digging ditches to washing dishes, she now fears she could lose it all to who she calls a scamming scoundrel.
"He has no heart," Dovie said. "He has no feelings whatsoever."
But Dovie is undoubtedly not alone. Authorities said scammers are targeting victims of all ages, especially seniors. FBI agents said scammers use the same MO — persuasion, persistence, and pressure.
"For the bad guys, it's a sense of urgency. You got to do it now," said James Barnacle with the FBI.
Back at Dovie's, she's still sitting there alone. She prays she can survive and warns others to hang up the phone. But she also prays for the scammer who stole her last penny.
"You know hell's going to be hot," Dovie said. "Lots of people like them going straight to hell."
If you pay a scammer with a gift card, you may be able to get your money back in rare cases, but you have to act quickly.
Contact the company that issued the card immediately. Tell them the card was used in a scam. Ask if the money is still on the card, and if so, can they issue a refund. Some will, some won't. Also, keep your receipt as proof of how much you spent.
Even if you don't get your money back, report the scam to the card company and the Federal Trade Commission. Doing that may help keep someone else from becoming a victim. To report the scam, click here.
Experts suggest you warn your elderly parents or grandparents about scams. If you're not sure the person calling is a scammer, hang up and look up the company or agency's official number and give them a call. And remember, never pay a bill with a gift card.
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