Scam Alert: Beware of contests that ask for a fee to collect winnings

Posted at 9:14 PM, May 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-21 21:14:32-04

Getting a letter announcing that you've won a contest seems like great news, but it may be telling you to pay a fee to collect your winnings.

There's one woman who fell victim to this scam several times.

Reta`s saga started in 2011 when she was told she had won a Mercedes Benz that was on its way to her home.

"We`re at the state line Miss George, we need $35, 000. Well I don`t have no $35,000,”’ she says.

The con-artists were relentless. Reta has lost more than $70,000 dollars in various foreign lottery scams.

Her name and phone number were put on a so-called 'lead list' for other scammers to access her information.

'It got bigger and bigger and more people calling me for money, and finally it got so big I had 64 calls in one day,” says Reta.

Reta eventually called police.

“They said, ‘Ms. George it's a scam. It's repetitious that's all it is. You're just giving your money away for nothing.’ Finally I caught on and said this is it. This is too much.”

Postal inspectors were alerted to Reta`s case and were able to intercept one of her payments to those conmen. They recovered $13,000 in money orders.

Reta has strong words about people who prey on the vulnerable, just like her.

“They have no conscience. They push you and try to get more money out of you, and if you don't say no, they will take your home, they will take your money and leave you in the street and that's where a lot of people are now; it`s terrible.'

Just remembers, there is no legitimate lottery will ever ask for money up front.