Former teacher scammed out of thousands of dollars

Inspectors: No legitimate lottery or contest will ever ask for money upfront

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How do you know if a contest or a lottery is really a scam? Thousands of people learn the hard way.

"I believed them that it was a real thing and it was going to make our lives different," said fraud victim, Betty Klassen.

Klassen was devastated to learn she and her husband were scammed out of thousands of dollars.

"He said I won $3 million and if I sent $5,000 I could collect the money, so I sent him the money," explained Klassen.

The former teacher sent money orders and cash cards to the address she was given.  Then, they asked for more money.  Klassen admits she really thought she had won a prize, until her children forced her to face the truth.

"I told them I thought I was going to make a lot of money, and they said 'Mom, that is a scam.'"

"This is her retirement savings, this is what she worked her whole life for and she is sending that money in a lottery scam in hopes of getting a lump sum in return," said US Postal Inspector Michael Roberto.

Klassen's children immediately contacted Postal Inspectors, who started tracking the case.  Inspectors say Klassen is not alone.

"It's someone's grandmother, it's someone's mother, it's someone's friend," explained Roberto.

In Klassen's case, the con men not only took her money, they also stole her trust.

"What broke my heart is she didn't want to answer the phone because she didn't want to be scammed again," said Robertow.

Klassen says she wished she had talked with her children about what she was doing much earlier in the process and that, she believes, could have saved her a lot of money. You might have heard this before but it's worth repeating: No legitimate lottery or contest will ever ask for money upfront before giving you your winnings.

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