Safe from Scams: lottery scam targets seniors

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- US Postal Inspectors said there's a fast growing lottery con game across the nation that targets senior citizens. One family came together to protect their father and his savings.

Daniel Minnix's father passed away several years ago. But he has a very powerful message for aging seniors.

"My Dad was a very smart man and he was a good businessman, he even did tax returns for many people all through his life so he was very astute," said Daniel.

As smart as he was when he began receiving mail and phone calls telling him he won millions of dollars in a lottery sweepstakes-- he believed them.

"He got caught up in this because of health and that's what happens with seniors. He had Parkinson's and early stages of Alzheimer's," said Daniel.

"It was at that point that the kids starting coming into the equation, his sons and daughter trying to talk to their father and telling him that what he was doing in fact was not winning a prize, but really he was giving up his hard-earned savings," said Paul Krenn, US Postal Inspector.

"It's like someone hooked on gambling, or hooked on anything, so, the get rich schemes work on people like that, and it worked on him very well," said Daniel.

Postal inspectors said victims are often put on a list that is sold to other con artists. The cycle can be vicious.

"They were relentless. Lots of letters, lots of phone calls, and then it seemed like once he fell for one, somebody else started calling," said said Daniel.

Fortunately, Daniel's mother was playing interference by not sending any checks.

"They weren't getting his money, mother made sure of that."

Daniel said the conartists can be very convincing, so communication is key.

"Families need to be involved so that they know what you are doing."

Postal inspectors want to remind you that if you've won a legitimate sweepstakes or lottery prize, you should never have to pay upfront to receive your winnings.
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