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Woman sentenced for scamming southern Utah victim out of thousands of dollars

SAINT GEORGE – A Massachusetts woman convicted of bilking an elderly woman out of more than $160 thousand will spend 51 months in prison.

Prosecutors say the defendant, Raven Shakes, made almost 500 phone calls to her victim in St. George, over the course of four months.  Then the victim, who doesn’t want to be identified, says she would normally stay away from this kind of scam, but, she didn’t this time.  “She was so nice to me.  She literally became a friend.”

Court documents show Shakes told the victim she had won over $11 million in a sweepstakes, but, she needed to pay fees and taxes on those supposed winnings.  The victim says Shakes told her to keep it a secret from her family.  “That’s the hardest part.  It’s changed the whole family.  It’s not just one person that’s hurt, it’s the whole family.”

Prosecutors say they were able to determine just over $160 thousand was taken, but, the victim feels she was tricked out of more than that.  She adds, “I had enough money that I could pretty well do what I needed or wanted to do.  Now, I just barely live from paycheck to paycheck.”

US Attorney for Utah John Huber says it’s rare scammers like this are caught.  “They disguise their phone numbers to the point we can’t track them down.”  He adds that scammers frequently go after elderly victims because they’re less tech savvy, and they still pick up the phone more than younger people do.