Inspired by Nigerian Scam Artists, Grandma Turns to Life of Crime

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A few years ago, 78-year-old Doris Siegel was taken in by some Nigerian scam artists who told her she'd won a Dutch lottery. They lured her all the way to Holland, where they explained that to actually get the money, she had to pay them $10,000 and then they would mail it to her. Poor Doris fell for it, and never got a cent. But the experience stuck with her, apparently, and after a number of fruitless attempts to retrieve her winnings, she, like Sawyer from Lost, decided to become a grifter herself.

Police in Florida say that over the past five years, Siegel bilked her friends, neighbors, and fellow churchgoers out of more than $1 million.

"She said she had a mission in Guatemala somewhere and she was supporting it and some of our church members gave money for it," Pastor John Sabo of the Brooksville Seventh-Day Adventist Church told ABC's affiliate WTFS.


Police are flummoxed.

"I've seen cases like this before, where victims have been suckered in, but never had a case where the victim went out and victimized about 14 other people," the police chief said.


Siegel has attempted the Uncle Leo Defense — she reportedly told cops that she "doesn't know why" she lied to her friends in order to get money from them. But her victims are skeptical. "She seemed like the most sincere, sweetest woman you'd ever want to meet in your life," said a neighbor who gave Siegel $22,000. "She knows exactly what she was doing."

Florida Grandmother Arrested for Scamming Friends out of More Than $1 Million [ABC News]