I-Team 10 Consumer Alert: Foreign lottery scams

Posted at: 10/15/2013 3:16 PM
Updated at: 10/15/2013 5:53 PM

It's bad enough that large numbers of Americans are getting lured into foreign lottery scams. 

Foreign lottery scams are costing Americans more than $120 million a year. It's the same thing over and over, pay money up front to collect your winnings.

Steve Bolz, U.S. Postal Inspector, said, “It might be they have to pay taxes, they have to pay customs, processing fees, it's all window dressing.”

In this case, a twist. A postal clerk tipped off postal inspector Steve Bolz to a victim being targeted by two rival foreign lottery scammers.

Bolz said, "He was standing in line at the post office ready to mail a package as one of these groups directed him when he received a phone call on his cell phone from a rival group. When they learned what he was doing they gave him a new address to send that package. That is what he did."

The clerk sent that package to inspector Bolz. He returned it to the targeted victim. More than $13,000 in cash that could have ended up in the hands of con-men. Bolz told him it was all a scam, but the victim didn't believe him.

Bolz said, "People don't want to believe this is a scam, because they really want to believe in that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." 

In fact, the targeted victim tried to send the money again. The inspector got his wife involved who took away his cell and watches their accounts. 

Bolz said, "I was unable to get through to him, because the story he was being told was just so much better than the story I was telling him." 

Reminder: There are no legitimate lotteries or sweepstakes that will ask for money upfront.