LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- It started with one piece of mail promising a fortune. But by the time this rip off was over, the San Diego victim was practically penniless.
“They send letter. ‘You won a million dollars,’ ” said fraud victim Elda Dejar. “ ‘Please send back the letter and $50.’ ”
Dejar was told she won millions of dollars in these foreign lottery letters. But after sending more than $10,000 over a year, “No, they send nothing. All they do is ask again, ask again, ask again.”
The 87-year old would have continued sending money, except the bank called her son, Carlos.
“ ‘What is wrong with your mom’s account?’ I don’t know. What is wrong with her account?” Carlos said.
Carlos Dejar learned the lottery scam had left his mother with practically nothing. She thought she was paying the taxes and fees on prizes she won.
“She probably started with two or three that were different, and then those three turned into 30,” Carlos Dejar said. “Those 30 turned into 300, and the 300 turned into an unimaginable amount of things. She would be in the house opening mail for hours and hours.”
Sometimes she was sent small trinkets, leading her to believe the promised winnings were real.
“It’s just garbage,” Carlos Dejar said. “It’s something you would get in a swap meet for $20.”
When Carlos told her mother it was all a scam, she didn’t believe him.
“She threw a fit,” Carlos said. “She was absolutely not talking to me for days. She was very nervous and very angry with me.”
Carlos says the con artists not only bombarded his mother with mail, they started calling her.
“There are a lot of people who are elderly that have no one that they can rely on,” Carlos said. “That what these sweepstakes people are relying on.”
“By talking to them, ‘Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?’ … while they are on the phone they are Google-ing that area and pretend they grew up in the same area,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Ricky Vida.
Postal inspectors say consumers need to keep this in mind.
“Any legitimate lottery, if you win, will take the taxes and fees out after you get the money,” Vida said. “They don’t ask for it up front; there is no advanced fee you have to pay.”