Sweet talking scammer


It's a tempting pitch. The caller claims you've won millions in a foreign lottery and all you have to do is pay a fee to collect your winnings. It's one of the most popular scams and one that is cheating thousands of victims our of millions of dollars.

We talked to a victim who wants to remain anonymous. She told us, "He made me a believer. He was real sweet talking and he made me believe what he was saying." She lost all of her savings in a sweepstakes scam. "He promised me I would get four million dollars."

The man on the phone told her she needed to send money to pay the customs fee linked to her winnings. So she did. U.S. Postal Inspector Stephanie Harden explained the scam. "She would buy numerous, sometimes 15 to 20 money orders at a time." The victim told us she did that until she ran out of money.

An astute post office employee noticed the unusual number of money orders and alerted inspectors who went to the victim's home. The victim said at first, "I didn't believe them. I kept arguing about it. They finally convinced me."

Harden said, "It's really heart wrenching when we have to tell them your life savings is gone."

In all, the victim lost $100,000. "I felt terrible," she said. "Because we were broke." The losses were devastating financially and emotionally. "I should have known, but I just knew I was going to get money to pay off our bills do anything we wanted to do but it wasn't that way."

An important warning from Postal Inspectors, no legitimate lottery will ever ask you for money upfront.