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Rip-Off Alert: Con artists' mail becomes friend to victim

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 7/30/2013 5:23 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- This is a Rip-Off Alert that drives home the point that there are con artists out there that just won't give up until they've drained their victims of every dime.

However, there are ways to avoid being caught up in a vicious cycle of greed.

Margaret Williams was concerned about the amount of mail her mother, Dorothy, had received one day.

“My mother had an enormous amount of mail from the letter carrier in one day,” she said. “I knew there was something fraudulent; it was just too much mail for an average day.”

Dorothy had sent more than $5,000 to various lottery contests.

“This mail contains all sort of lottery, foreign lottery winnings -- they are all scams – telling her she won an enormous amount of money,” Margaret Williams said.

Dorothy had gotten caught up in a vicious foreign lottery scheme. Lucky for her, Margaret works for the postal service and knows first-hand how these schemes work.

“Very disappointing that we live in a day where people who have worked hard their entire lives to have their financial resources wiped away because they are isolated,” Williams said. “My mother lives alone.”

Inspectors say these con artists are primarily targeting elderly.

“She found herself without her friends and people she would normally interact with,” she said, “and the mail had become her friend.”

Margaret told her mother she hasn’t won a thing, but Dorothy refused to listen.

“It’s like it registers for that moment, but after that she just goes back to the mail and just keeps opening it and puts some in one stack and the others in a another pile,” she said.

Postal inspectors say the cycle is frustrating.

“The fraudsters are relentless, even ruthless,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Schissler. “They won’t stop until seniors have no more money to send, and then they will recruit them to get money from other seniors.”

Inspectors say the most important thing to do is keep checking in with elderly parents and neighbors.

“We have to drive that message home every day because every day she is receiving this enormous amount of mail with the same message, same scam and we have to get her to stop. It’s an everyday turn,” Williams said.

And this reminder: No legitimate lottery will ever ask for money up front, and no legitimate lottery has fees or taxes that need to be paid up front.



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