How a father lost a fortune to scammers


It's a dilemma in many families.  You suspect your aging parent might be making a serious financial mistake but you're reluctant to intervene.  That decision could be a serious and costly error.

"I have no idea how it all started," said Honora Precourt. 

She doesn't understand how her well-educated father to mixed up with scam artists.

"I discovered it in the middle of the process when he was trying to charge a hotel room and his credit card was maxed out," she Precourt said.

She asked her father why and he said he was buying coins and stamps and the men he was dealing with charged his card.

"I thought that is bizarre behavior, but I trust my Dad, and I didn't want to embarrass him," Precourt added.

Now, she regrets that she let it go. Her father was not only involved in a coin scam, he was also spending his money on  bogus lottery sweepstakes.

"One day he said he was in trouble, in financial trouble," said Precourt. " I thought this is impossible. My Dad is a really smart person."

Precourt's father has since passed away, but she believes he lost more than $100,000.

"To her shock and surprise while going through his belongings she found several solicitations from fraudsters in the mail. He literally had stacks and stacks on his desk," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Tom Ouellette.

Inspectors learned the coin business was also a scam.

"The amount he was paying compared to the value of the coins was absurd. A $10 coin for example would cost $500.00," Ouellette added.

"I really want to prevent other people from going through what my family experienced," said Precourt.

Her first piece of advice is for you to intervene.

"I wish I had asked a lot more questions about it," she added.

"You know these individuals worked their whole lives saving their money, they earned their living and you have some scammer who comes along and takes everything they have. They have no scruples, they will take every penny they have," warned Ouellette.

Postal inspectors urge you to ask questions if you think a family member or a friend is involved in a lottery sweepstakes scam.  They emphasize that no legitimate lottery will ever ask for money upfront.