MIAMI, Fla. – Jacqueline Marino has received hundreds of lottery sweepstakes letters at her home, but she knows better.
"I have street smarts, so that is why I knew," said Marino.
But she admits they can look genuine and she knows a lot of people can be easily fooled.
"But you always got to look if they want money back and if so, just throw it in the garbage. It's false, it's fake you know, they are just stealing your money," warned Marino.
For example, scam artists mail hundreds of thousands of solicitation
s telling a person he or she has won $1.8 million. All they need is someone to bite.
"It has their name on it and it tells them that they are the lucky winner and they have been chosen out of hundreds of people," said U.S. Postal Inspector Michelle Purnavel.
The letter tells them all they need to do is send in $20, for example, to receive the information about the sweepstakes.
"In essence all they are really receiving is a report of sweepstakes which they can then enter," explained Purnavel.
Recipients often don't see the fine print written on these solicitations, and that's by design.
"It's a very small print, very fine color
- you know maybe like a light blue so you really can't tell. So they don't realize it really does state that it is for entertainment purposes only," she added.
Senior citizens are often the target.
"They know they are being targeted because they are elderly. It makes them feel mad, upset sometimes embarrassed," Purnavel said. "If you didn't enter a sweepstakes, or you didn't sign up for anything and you are receiving something in the mail, I wouldn't pay any money. I would never send money out."
"You know you can't trust people today. It's a different world than when you grew up," added Marino. You just don't give your money, and don't give your credit card number, you don't give your debit card number, your Social Security number - nothing."
Inspectors say if you have elderly neighbors or loved ones, ask them if they've received any packages or letters with a solicitation or money. If they did, contact authorities.