LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) — The pitch is seductive. You’ve won big money in a lottery and all you have to do is pay a small amount to get the winnings. In this Rip-Off Alert from Huntsville, Ala., it’s one of the most successful scams in the country and it’s destroying the lives of thousands of people.
Dannie Perry thought he won $2.5 million in a lottery sweepstakes. All he needed to do was pay a fee.
“It was a great American dream to win some money where you could retire and you could take care of your grandkids and your family and just do what you wanted to do,” Perry said. “$85 to win $2.5 (million) was a small amount to invest, so I invested. It escalated, and it just went into the thousands.”
But the initial fee didn’t bring his pay day. The scam artists kept calling demanding more money before they’d release the winnings.
“I just got caught up in it, and I exhausted some savings that I had,” Perry said. “Then I went to my charge cards borrowing cash off charge cards.”
There was no prize. Perry lost almost $80,000 in pursuit of the lottery money.
“I got disgusted with myself for getting involved when I should have known better,” he said. “I finally just told them I didn’t have any more money.”
“It’s a pipe dream,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Roger Mayhew. “We would all love to get a lot of money.“
Postal inspectors say Perry is one of thousands of foreign lottery victims. These scams are costing many older Americans their life savings, retirement funds and credit line.
“We need to stop it on the front end before people have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Mayhew said.
Awareness and communication are key. If you get a call or mailing claiming you’ve won a lottery, talk to family and friends who are likely to steer you in the right direction.
“You may be the lifeline that can protect them from losing their retirement that they saved and worked all of their life for,” Mayhew said.
And always keep this is mind: There is no legitimate sweepstakes or lottery that will ever ask for money up front.