Consumer Alert: Beware of foreign lottery scams

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Beware of letters announcing you've won a contest, especially if you have to pay something to collect the winnings. One woman fell victim multiple times.

Reta Gail George's saga started in 2011, when she was told she had won a Mercedes-Benz that was on its way to her home. That was just the start. Since then, George has lost more than $70,000 in various foreign lottery scams. Her name and phone number were put on a so-called "Lead List" for other scammers to access her information.

"It got bigger and bigger and more people calling me for money and finally, it got so big I had 64 calls in one day," says George.

George eventually contacted police about the calls. They told her it was a scam.

"They said 'Ms. George it's a scam. It's repetitious that's all it is. You're just giving your money away for nothing.' Finally I caught on and said this is it. This is too much," says George.

Postal inspectors were alerted to Geroge's case and were able to intercept one of her payments to those conmen.

"We were able to recover 13-thousand dollars in money orders," George says.

"Make sure you talk to your loved ones and let them know they should never pay a fee for something they have won," says U.S. Postal Inspector Blanca Alerez.

George has strong words about people who prey on the vulnerable, just like her.

"They have no conscience, they push you and try to get more money out of you and if you don't say no they will take your home, they will take your money and leave you in the street and that's where a lot of people are now. it's terrible," George says.

It is important to remember that no legitimate lottery will ever ask for money up front.

No matter how official the letters look from a foreign lottery, it's garage.

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