Crooks target the elderly in vicious foreign lottery scheme

Posted at 8:48 PM, Oct 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-04 20:48:35-04

There are con artists out there who just won't give up until they've drained their victims of every dime they have.

There are ways to avoid being caught up in a vicious cycle of greed.

“My mother had an enormous amount of mail from the letter carrier in one day,” says Margaret Williams, the daughter of a fraud victim.

That concerned Williams.

“I knew there was something fraudulent. It was just too much mail for an average day,” says Williams.

Her mother, Dorothy, had sent more than $5,000 to these various lottery contests.

“This mail contains all sorts of lottery, foreign lottery winnings. They are all scams telling her she won an enormous amount of money,” says Williams.

Dorothy had gotten caught up in a vicious foreign lottery scheme. Lucky for her, Margaret works for the postal service and knows, first hand, how these schemes work.

“Very disappointing that we live in a day where people who have worked hard their entire lives to have their financial resources wiped away because they are isolated, my mother lives alone,” says Williams.

Inspectors say these con artists are primarily targeting the elderly.

“She found herself without her friends and people she would normally interact with and the mail had become her friend,” says Williams.

Margaret has told her mother she hasn`t won a thing, but Dorothy is refusing to listen.

“It`s like it registers for that moment, but after that she just goes back to the mail and just keeps opening it and puts some in one stack and the others in a another pile,” says Williams.

Postal inspectors say the cycle is frustrating.

“The fraudsters are relentless even ruthless. They won`t stop until seniors have no more money to send and then they will recruit them to get money from other seniors,” says Frank Schissler, US Postal Inspector.

Inspectors say the most important thing to do is keep checking in with elderly parents and neighbors.

“We have to drive that message home every day because every day she is receiving this enormous amount of mail with the same message, same scam and we have to get her to STOP. It`s an everyday turn,” says Williams.

Keep in mind, no legitimate lottery will ever ask for money upfront and no legitimate lottery has fees or taxes that need to be paid up front.