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Scam Alert: How to spot a con artist when they target you

Posted at 9:55 PM, Mar 06, 2015

“When you realize it is happening to you, it is very different,” says Doris Galinas, a fraud victim.

Everything is different for this 84-year-old widow and retired nurse who spent her life helping others. Now, Doris Gelinas is the one in need.

“They called and said I won a big prize from the Mega Millions and there were two cars - a new Mercedes,” says Galinas.

Euphoria quickly turned to frustration when she heard about a `catch`.

“Taxes. You have to pay for the taxes. The state taxes, it never stopped,” says Gelinas.

Doris began making payments but realized she needed more money.

“They actually convinced her to go and refinance her house and come up with a large source of money, so she refinanced her home at their advice and took out $151,000,” says Michael Gendron, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Dorothy made frequent trips to the post office to send her payments, which caught the attention of postal clerks.

“We were concerned for her coming in so often mailing via Express,” says Daniel Stewart,  a postal clerk.

So they asked Dorothy point blank if she was caught up in a scam.

“I believe every clerk who dealt with her tried to explain we didn`t feel it was right or something wasn`t right about it, but she said she was OK,” says Stewart.

“They would say we just want to make sure you`re not being scammed and I said oh no I`m not being scammed,” says Galinas.

The clerks decided to notify postal inspectors about Doris.

“They have absolutely no mercy when it comes to exploiting our senior citizens. So the best thing we can possibly do is talk about it so that everybody knows how the schemes operate,” says Gendron.

Dorothy lost a staggering $100, 000 to foreign lottery thieves.

“I thought I was too smart for that - but there`s nobody that smart,” says Galinas.

Here`s something important to remember: No legitimate lottery will ask for money upfront if you`ve won. If you get a call or a letter saying you`ve won a lottery and have to pay taxes to collect your winning, you can call or contact your local postal inspector via uspis.gov.