Contact 6: Con men played off older man’s loneliness

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6's Contact 6 says those who feel immune from falling prey to con artists should understand that even the brightest and most careful can easily be lured by the promise of big money.

Lawrence Hawkins uses these words to describe the con artists at the heart of a scam that cost his father more than $60,000: arrogant, demanding and lying.

"A few days after my mother died, my father got some sort of letter in the mail, saying she won some multi-million dollars," Hawkins said.

To collect the jackpot, Hawkins' father was instructed he first had to pay taxes on the winnings, and the con men kept asking for more.

"He was paying out like the green grocer - every week," Hawkins said.

A telemarketing firm now had Hawkins' information and started soliciting him over the phone as well.

"It`s really insidious. These people are persistent and they don`t know how to take 'no' for an answer," Hawkins said.

So how could this Army veteran and former biochemist for the National Institute of Health fall for this scam?

"I think my father was lonely, and I think what these scam people did on some level was provided some kind of consistency. There would be a consistent phone call coming in. The only thing my father got out of this was grief," Hawkins said.

Hawkins says he wishes his father had told him sooner, but postal inspectors say what happened is typical.

"It`s the embarrassment and a lot of times it is fear of telling their families," U.S. Postal Inspector Lori McAlister said.

"Anybody who thinks they will not fall victim to some kind of fraud or scam or what have you... be sure. Check in with your parents, check in with your grandparents, check in with your aunts, uncles, elderly cousins. Whatever it is check in with them and make sure everything is okay," Hawkins said.

FOX6's Katrina Cravy says no legitimate lottery will ever ask for money up front.