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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Older adults prime target for scams

Updated: Monday, July 7 2014, 11:18 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- Foreign lottery scams may sound far-fetched, but they are wiping out the savings of millions of Americans; many of them our parents.

Older people are the prime targets for these aggressive conmen.  Bob's mother lost more than $250,000 after receiving solicitations along with phone calls from persistent con artists.  The claim: "We guarantee you will win the lottery," all you have to do is send in a small fee for the winning program.
 
Amanda McMurrey, a U.S. Postal Inspector, said, "People would pay $67 to $109 depending on what level they'd like to participate in this particular group."
 
Another flyer claimed the Lotto Max 356 super computer could predict winning state lottery numbers.  The truth: this was all a scam.
 
Bob, the son of a fraud victim, said, "She comes from a generation of people trusting what people say because your reputation was everything. Nowadays reputations don't matter to people... they just want the money."
 
Bob's mother lost everything, "She no longer owns her house. She got a reverse mortgage and sent that money in cash through the U.S. mail."
 
Sheree Nudd's mother was another victim of these scams.
 
Nudd said, "This, for example, would be maybe a day's worth of mail, maybe two days.  One day I counted that she received 85 pieces of mail."
 
All the letters were scams.  Letters supposedly from Reader's Digest and the IRS, offers of cheap jewelry as bait; all of the letters promised big prizes including new cars.
 
Nudd's mother, Bette, fell for all of them and wired away her retirement savings.
 
"We believe she lost somewhere north of $200,000, her life savings.  And they left her with nothing but debt," said Nudd.
                
The lottery fraud scammers were operating from outside the country and have no conscience.

Frank Schissler, a U.S. postal inspector, said, "Postal inspectors are urging families to get involved as soon as possible. The sooner you get involved, the sooner it can stop.  Unfortunately these fraudsters are so ruthless and so relentless that they won't stop until they've taken your senior relatives' last dollar."
 
In order to protect your loved one see if you can get them to allow their mail to be forwarded to you or one of your siblings.  That way you can tend to important letters and throw away the scams.


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