HOUSTON, Texas – It's an old scam that continues to lure people in. US Postal Inspectors found con-artists have come up with one more way to deceive potential victims of foreign lottery scams.
"He explained to me... I mean who doesn't dream of winning the lottery? He was contacted and told you have won the lottery and in order to collect that prize money you need to pay the taxes to get it out of the country and to the US," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Larson.
The victim sent the money. In fact, he sent all of his retirement savings.
"He said the folks, 'I don't have any more money to win.' Part of the catch, I'm going to help you out as long as you pay me back some of the money," said Larson.
And there is a new layer to the foreign lottery scheme.
"When he ran out of that money, the scammers started explaining to him, hey look we have sponsors here that can help you," said Larson.
Essentially, the con-artists would tell other victims they too won the lottery and to send their fee money to the original victim.
"So, instead of sending money directly to Jamaica, they would send money to our victim," Larson explained.
The move helped the con artists perpetuate the scam.
"It's more legit because they aren't sending it to another country," said Larson.
Postal inspectors warn all consumers to remember.
"Foreign lotteries are illegal," said Larson. "You have to be on their soil to participate in their lottery."
No legitimate lottery will ever ask for money upfront, and no legitimate lottery has fees or taxes that need to be paid upfront.