Looking out for lottery scams

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If you have an elderly family member, friend or neighbor - keep an eye out for red flags. (KFSN)

Imagine getting a phone call saying you've won a multi-million dollar lottery sweepstakes and a luxury car. Would you hang up the phone or pay money up front to collect your winnings?

If she sent this money, she was going to get her money back plus more money and then it just kept on. This woman has asked us to hide her identity because she's afraid conmen will continue to target her 74-year-old mother - a retired school teacher who was cheated out of more than $70,000.

How? Paying what she was told were taxes on a multi-million dollar sweepstakes that con-artists convinced her she won. "She has always been very frugal with her money and this is what was so surprising to me," a woman only identified as "Peggy" said. "That a stranger could talk her out of such big lump sums of money."

The scam stopped after a postal employee noticed the woman sending several express packages. "I asked her was she mailing money to someone," said Derrek Gunning with the United States Postal Service said. "That there's often scams going on where people try to get elderly to mail money."

The employee called postal inspectors who encouraged him to ask the victim to open the package. "She pulled out some magazines and between the pages of the magazines were hundred dollar bills," Gunning said.

Inspectors say these conmen manipulate the victims into believing they are friends and to keep their dealings secret. "They have created so much trust within the victims," postal inspector David Oakley said. "The perpetrators have, that it makes it hard for anybody to really break through that bond that they have."

If you have an elderly family member, friend or neighbor - keep an eye out for red flags.

"When you pay a visit to them, look at the type of mail that they are getting," Oakley recommended. "Look at the number of phone calls that they receive while you are there."

The victim in this case ended up needing to move in with her children, who were also added to all of her bank accounts - so they would see the statements.
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