Lottery scam lures woman from victim to middleman

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sometimes the lure of big money can drive a person to do something they would normally never consider doing. In this case, the victim learned an important lesson.

This woman does not want to show her face after admitting to authorities she played a minor role in a lottery/sweepstakes scam. It began with the phone calls -- conmen continuously calling, telling her she had won a $3 million jackpot. But to claim her winnings, she needed to pay taxes.

"You've won $3.5 million, plus a Mercedes-Benz, and all you have to do is pay $5,000 -- sounds like a great deal," said U.S. Postal Inspector Steven Bolz.

When the victim told the scam artists she didn't have the money for the taxes, they tried to convince her to take out a loan.

"I think I'd be real stupid to take out $20,000 and give it to you, and I ain't gonna get a dime back," the woman said.

When she refused to take out a loan, the conmen proposed she work off the money they claimed she owed them. Her job being the middleman cashing the checks they sent her.

"That middleman or middlewoman is expected to receive that check in the mail or receive that cash in the mail, frequently deposit it into their bank account, and then transfer the money onward the way they are instructed to do so," said Bolz.

The victim did this initially thinking she had nothing to lose, until a check bounced and she was responsible for the losses. She learned a lesson.

"Don't send them no money, and if they send you the money to send to somebody else, send it back to them," the woman said.

In this case, the victim agreed to never accept money from someone she doesn't know and send it on to another place.

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