Target 2: Bogus Lottery and Prize Schemes - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Target 2: Bogus Lottery and Prize Schemes


One of the most popular schemes out there leads people into losing money every day. One victim is sharing his experience in hopes of saving you thousands of dollars and serious heartache.

Daniel Pipkins III thought he had won the lottery and hoped those winnings would help him recover from steep real estate losses.

"I got into this terrible situation to offset the terrible losses I incurred. It's very difficult," he said.

He has a table full of bogus winning notices promising millions of dollars and new cars.

"I didn't want to sit around feeling sorry for myself, so I thought I would give it a chance. $10, $4, $30."

Pipkins got caught up in a foreign lottery scam. Con artists send out notices saying the victim won a lottery and all he needs to do to collect is to pay a fee or taxes on the winnings.

Pipkins read all of the notices and found the wording very persuasive.

"It tells me you didn't answer the first time but I'm going to try you a second time and there is a 50 million dollar thing and all I have to do is get it back to them in 10 days."

The 89-year old spent more than $3,500 in just one year and never won a thing.

"Not one red cent. That is a lot of money back there."

Now he knows better.

"I know that I should have backed off on a lot of it, but the phraseology can make you feel as though 'this is your moment,'" he said.

US postal inspectors say the victims are usually elderly.

"It really affects their standard of living. They are cutting into their utility budget, their food budget, just to participate in these scam lotteries," Postal Inspector Terrence Sullivan said.

"There are guys and all they do is scheme stuff up -- and they may not be next door to you, they could be across the world," Pipkins said.

Postal inspectors say often this type of crime goes unreported because victims are embarrassed to admit they've been taken.

If you get these bogus prize notices, remember this is mail fraud. No upfront fees ever need to be paid on valid lottery winnings.

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