I-Team 10 Consumer Alert: Foreign lottery scam

Posted at: 07/08/2013 4:45 PM
Updated at: 07/08/2013 7:58 PM

It was a scam to steal thousands from the family.  Many people have received an email or letter saying they've won millions of dollars, but they first have to send money to get their winnings. And many wonder, is it a scam? One hundred percent of the time the answer is yes.

The next time someone asks you to pay money to collect your winnings, call police because you're the target of a scam.

Glenn Anschutz was told he was the lucky winner of $3 million dollars and a new Mercedes Benz.
All he had to do was pay the fees to the Mega Millions so the winnings could be inspected and cleared for delivery. Anschutz sent the money in part because the address was in this country.

Stacie Johnson, U.S. Postal Inspector, said, “He always thought it was to never send money out of the country. The  fact that the money was still in the U.S. made him comfortable with believing he really did win something."
The postal service says the truth is the letter is part of a foreign lottery scam that was unraveled after a bank called postal inspectors. Bank tellers said they got suspicious when men asked about wiring $15,000 a month and wanted to know exactly how the wiring process worked.
Johnson said, “They thought they were dishwashers or cooks at this resort and they thought since that didn't add up to $15,000 dollars a month, then they contacted their fraud department."

Postal inspectors started tracking the money and eventually got a search warrant for the suspect's home.
Inspectors say there were at least 30 victims.

Johnson said, “One woman said her daughter was dying of cancer. She thought this was a godsend and could help her daughter in her final days.”

Investigators found this note in the suspect's home begging for her money back. It said, 'Please, send my $450.00 back. I have bills to pay, otherwise they are going to turn everthing off.' Then she writes, 'I hope you do the right thing and send my money back.'

Inspectors say the five suspects in the case were “middle men” to people in Jamaica, running the foreign lottery scam. All five were indicted and deported back to Jamaica. The lesson is you never have to pay to collect your winnings. If that's what you're being told, you are being targeted and don't do it.

If you need help, call the I-Team at 232-1010.