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Elderly woman gets caught up in foreign lottery scam

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- You're a winner! How many times have you gotten a piece of mail that tells you about some lottery you've never heard of -- and that you've won it? FOX6's Contact 6 says too often, these scammers take advantage of those who need the most help.

"My mother had an enormous amount of mail from the letter carrier in one day. I knew there was something fraudulent. It was just too much mail for an average day," Margaret Williams, the daughter of a fraud victim said.

Williams' mother Dorothy had sent more than $5,000 to various lottery contests.

"This mail contains all sort of lottery, foreign lottery winnings they are all scams - telling her she won an enormous amount of money," Williams said.

Dorothy had gotten caught up in a vicious foreign lottery scheme. Lucky for her, Margaret works for the postal service, and knows firsthand how these schemes work.

"Very disappointing that we live in a day where people who have worked hard their entire lives to have their financial resources wiped away because they are isolated. My mother lives alone," Williams said.

Inspectors say these con artists are primarily targeting the elderly.

"She found herself without her friends and people she would normally interact with and the mail had become her friend," Williams said.

Margaret has told her mother she hasn't won a thing, but Dorothy is refusing to listen.

"It`s like it registers for that moment, but after that she just goes back to the mail and just keeps opening it and puts some in one stack and the others in another pile," Williams said.

Postal inspectors say the cycle is frustrating.

"The fraudsters are relentless, even ruthless. They won`t stop until seniors have no more money to send and then they will recruit them to get money from other seniors," U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Schissler said.

Inspectors say the most important thing to do is keep checking in with elderly parents and neighbors.

"We have to drive that message home every day because every day she is receiving this enormous amount of mail with the same message, same scam and we have to get her to STOP. It`s an everyday turn," Williams said.

FOX6's Contact 6 says no legitimate lottery is ever going to ask you for the money up front. You get the winnings, and then you pay the taxes.

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