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Hazlehurst woman arrested in Florida for alleged role in $16.8 million scam

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Bessie V. Trowell Photo courtesy of the Lynn Haven, Florida, Police Department Bessie V. Trowell

Bessie V. Trowell, 67, of Hazlehurst, has been arrested and charged in connection with a $16.8 million Publishers Clearing House scam in Lynn Haven, Florida, according to a post on the Lynn Haven Police Department’s Facebook page. The post states that the scam defrauded a Lynn Haven victim of more than $9,000. 



According to the post, the investigation began on January 28, 2023, when the victim reported to police that they had sent checks and funds via Green Dot pre-paid cards after having received a call telling them that they had won a $16.8 million dollar prize from the Publishers Clearing House. However, before they could claim their prize, they would have to pay fees to receive the award. After being asked for even more money, the victim contacted the real Publishers Clearing House and learned that they had been scammed. 



During the investigation, the victim was told that an additional $10,000 in fees were required in order to process their winnings and that someone would personally meet with them to pick up the money. Officers set up a surveillance operation and Trowell showed up at the pre-arranged meeting point to collect the victims’ money. Officers arrested her at the scene. Trowell had driven from Hazlehurst to Lynn Haven, near Panama City, to get the money.



At the time of Trowell’s arrest, detectives seized additional evidence which indicated that she had been extensively involved in fraudulent activity over a period of time. Trowell was charged with grand theft and booked into the Bay County Jail.



The Lynn Haven Police Department would like to remind the public that you should NEVER send money to people that you do not know. This applies to people everywhere — not just in Florida. Requirements to send payments before you can claim a prize  and/or payments that need to be made via pre-paid cards are red flags that you are being scammed. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 



The investigation is continuing, and additional charges are expected. Anyone with information regarding this crime is asked to contact the Lynn Haven Police Department at (850) 265-4111.

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