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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Foreign Lottery Scams
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- Here's some advice that could save you a fortune. Next time someone asks you to pay money to collect a prize you won, don't do it. Local 12 TroubleShooter Howard Ain says that's a clear sign you're dealing with con-artists.
Unfortunately, a lot of people fall for this scam every year. Some people even lose thousands of dollars.
Glenn Anschutz was told he was the lucky winner of $3 million dollars and a 2012 Mercedes Benz. All he had to do was pay the fees to the Mega Millions so the winnings could be inspected and cleared for delivery. Sadly, he sent thousands of dollars.
Stacie Johnson, U.S. Postal Inspector:
STACIE JOHNSON: "He always thought it was to never send out money out of the country. The fact that the money was still in the U.S. made him comfortable with believing he really did win something."
The truth: The letter is part of a foreign lottery scam that was unraveled after a local bank called postal inspectors.
JOHNSON: "Individuals coming in, asking odd questions about wiring money and about their accounts in general."
Bank tellers said one of the suspicious men was asking about wiring $15 thousand dollars a month and wanted to know exactly how the wiring process worked.
JOHNSON: "They thought they were dishwashers or cooks at this resort and they thought since that didn't add up to $15 thousand dollars a month, then they contacted their fraud department."
Postal inspectors began tracking the money and eventually got a search warrant for the suspect's home.
JOHNSON: "Bank statements, wire transfers, deposits and withdrawals going through bank transfers. From that information, we got to speak to 5 victims."
Inspectors say there were at least 30 victims.
JOHNSON: "One woman said her daughter was dying of cancer and her medical bills were piling up and she and her family didn't know what to do. She thought this was a Godsend and could help her daughter in her final days."
Investigators found a note in the suspect's home begging for her money back. It said: 'please send my $450.00 back. I have bills to pay, otherwise they are going to turn everything off.' Then she says, 'I hope you do the right thing and send my money back.'
Inspectors say the 5 suspects in this case were middle men. The people running the foreign lottery scam are in Jamaica. All 5 were indicted and arrested.