Postal inspectors' advice could save you a fortune
It started with one piece of mail promising Elda Dejar a fortune. but by the time this scam was over, she was practically penniless.
"They send letter. You won a million dollars please send back the letter and $50," explained Elda.
She was told she won millions of dollars in foreign lottery letters. But, after sending more than $10,000 over a year, she received nothing.
"They send nothing. All they do is ask again, ask again, ask again," Elda said.
The 87-year old would have continued sending money, except the bank called her son.
Carlos Dejar, Enda's son, described the call he got from the bank.
"What is wrong with your Mom's account? I don't know what is wrong with her account?"
Carlos 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 those 30 turned into 300 and the 300 turned into an unimaginable amount of things," explained Carlos. "She would be in the house opening mail for hours and hours."
Sometimes Enda was sent small trinkets - leading her to believe the promised winnings were real.
"It's just garbage, it's something you would get in a swamp meet for $20," said Carlos.
When Carlos told his mother it was all a scam, she didn't believe him.
"She threw a fit. She was absolutely not talking to me for days. She was very nervous and very angry with me," said Carlos.
He 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. That what these sweepstakes people are relying on," he added.
"By talking to them [asking], 'where did you grow up, where did you go to school?' While they are on the phone they are Googling 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 the following in mind.
"Any legitimate lottery if you win will take the taxes and fees out after you get the money, they don't ask for it up front, there is no advanced fee you have to pay," said Vida.
Carlos wants other families to learn from his mistake.
"Understand where the money is going, know their finances. Get tight with them," he advised.
Postal inspectors want to remind consumers that no legitimate lottery will ask for money upfront.
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