FARMINGTON — An Industry man is out $1,000 in a sweepstakes scam, after two men claiming to be FBI or U.S. Customs agents flashed badges and told the man he won $800,000.

Franklin County Detective Lt. David St. Laurent was told that two men showed up at the residence wearing suits and driving a dark-colored sedan, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said in a news release.

The resident said the men told him he had won a sweepstakes in Las Vegas and that someone had tried to use his name and Social Security number to claim the money out of Florida. He was told to call 202-407-9398 and speak to a Customs agent named Ivan Peterson, Nichols said.

The resident called the number and spoke to the person claiming to be Peterson who identified himself as a U.S. Customs agent. The resident was told he had won the money and that he had to send $1,000 to an account to claim his money, which was being held at U.S. Customs at the Miami National Airport in Florida.

The resident sent the $1,000 to an address in Jamaica, Nichols said.

A few days later the man claiming to be Peterson called saying the resident had to send another $1,250.


At that point, the Industry resident became suspicious and called St. Laurent.

St. Laurent called the number and a male answered, identifying himself as Ivan Peterson with U.S. Customs. When St. Laurent identified himself, “Mr. Peterson” maintained that he was with Customs out of Washington, D.C.

Peterson gave St. Laurent the same story he told the Industry resident. He said the resident had been defrauded and that he, Peterson, had sent the FBI to the man’s house to verify who he was so they could start the process, Nichols said.

Peterson, who had a foreign accent, was very convincing, but when St. Laurent asked questions about the money and why it was in Florida, Peterson stumbled and eventually hung up, Nichols said.

The phone number came up in the White Pages as Customs in Washington, D.C., but when it was entered into a reverse directory the number came back listed as private and White Pages could not access it.

St. Laurent entered the number into and it showed up as a scam number, Nichols said. 


The big concern to the Sheriff’s Office, Nichols said, is that two men showed up and flashed badges and initiated this by giving the resident a scam-related number to call.

If this could happen in rural Franklin County, Maine, it could happen anywhere, he said.

Nichols said police officers or agents would not come to a house to inform someone they had won a sweepstakes.

If this happens again, he said, the target of the scam should take a photo of the “agents,” get a description of them and their car and the license plate number, if possible.

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