Safe from Scams: Foreign Lotteries

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- US postal inspectors say foreign lottery schemes are victimizing families across the country at a growing rate.

Norman Breidenbaugh is moving-- again. Three years ago norm lost his home of 22 years after getting lured into a lottery scam. "When I left that house, the only thing I had was the clothes I took with me."

When the bank foreclosed a family friend helped. "When she found out the predicament I was in, she offered me a room in her basement and I've been there ever since," said Breidenbaugh.

The 83-year-old retired machinist has been working tirelessly to prevent others from being victimized by con-artists. "and I don't want to see anybody else get in that predicament. It's a bitter pill to take," he said.

Several years ago, Breidenbaugh and his wife, Lucinda, were told they had won $2.5-million in a lottery sweepstakes. All they needed to do was send in a $2,000 fee to collect the jackpot. So they did, but the con-artists strung him along with demands for one fee after another. At the same time, Breidenbaugh's wife became ill with cancer and the con-artists preyed on his situation. "Once they knew his wife was sick and ill, they guilted him into thinking he was going to collect winnings in order to pay for her hospital treatments, and you know it was a particularly insidious method that they used against him," said Frank Schissler, US Postal Inspector.

Emotionally distraught, and desperate, Breidenbaugh took out a reverse mortgage on his home to pay the fees.

In the end, he not only lost his wife to cancer, he also lost $400,000 of his savings and his home.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.