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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Lottery Lunacy

Updated: Monday, August 11 2014, 10:05 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- Con artists often target the elderly and are relentless in their effort to cheat and steal.

The phone rings and the caller said there was millions of dollars won.  But there's a catch and it's one that could wipe out your savings.

Jean Adams, a fraud victim, said, "They are really good. It was so believable. Now I would know better."

Adams has learned her lesson but it was a costly one, "It was 4 million dollar sweepstakes, they needed so much money because the vaults would not open until they had the very final payment."
 
So Adams sent the small payment and additional payments until she realized she had sent thousands of dollars.
 
"They always wanted you to send cash or something that, I guess could not be traced," said Adams.
 
After months of payments she became suspicious and decided to stop answering the phone.  But the calls didn't stop.
 
"They were very relentless, sometimes in the night, always in the daytime.  And this went on for months, months, months," Adams said.
 
The scam artists became so desperate they even sent a taxi cab driver and a food delivery van to Jean's home, "They couldn't reach me and were trying to find out, am I still here?"
 
Scott Barber, a U.S. postal inspector, said, "If they lose contact with them they are going to go through any means to establish that contact.  So to them there is no limit on that.  As long as they can get those people to send them money, they will continue to go back to that same individual."
 
Postal inspectors say some con men go as far as using police to help them.
 
"They would contact the local authorities and say they are family members," Barber warned.
 
Elderly are the most common target of these foreign lottery scams and they are losing millions of dollars a year. 

Postal inspectors warn, "If it sounds too good to be true - its' probably illegal."
                  
Remember no legitimate lottery will ever ask for money upfront.  Be sure to check what kind of mail elderly family is receiving.  If they are getting any sweepstakes or lottery letters in the mail, make sure they know not to pay anything.
 

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