Former Gov. John Baldacci meets Barbara Hinckley, 95, of Auburn for the first time Wednesday night before the spaghetti supper fundraiser for her at Auburn Middle School. Baldacci was in the kitchen where he had been stirring 17 gallons of sauce. Steve Collins/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — A 95-year-old Auburn woman who lost her life savings of at least $16,000 to a scam last summer wound up with more than that from a community fundraiser this week.

Family members said Barbara Hinckley got about $18,000 from a spaghetti supper Wednesday spearheaded by former Gov. John Baldacci.

Marsha Donahue of Millinocket, Hinckley’s daughter, called the response amazing on Friday.

“From the unexpected $1,000 checks to the obviously financially struggling people in line that gave extra above their tickets, I have been bowled over by people’s generosity,” she said.

“It has been a roller coaster ride for her and all of us in the family, too, from destitution to solvency,” Donahue said.

Hinckley lost at least $16,000 last summer to a swindler who convinced her she’d won second prize in the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. She kept sending small amounts of money as supposed necessities to collect her $2.5 million and a Mercedes-Benz.

Those who came to her aid Wednesday said they wanted to lend a hand to a brave woman willing to tell her story to the public because, as she put it, she didn’t want others to make the same mistakes.

Hinckley said she’s not sure what she’ll do with the cash, but she won’t have the ability to spend much of it without first getting her family’s approval. She said she won’t fall victim again.


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