Consumer Alert: Foreign lottery scam costing victims thousands

Consumer Alert: Here's some advice that could save you a fortune. Next time someone asks you to pay money to collect your winnings in a contest, call authorities. It's a clear sign you're dealing with con-artists.

Glenn Anschutz was told he was the luck winner of $3 million and a 2012 Mercedes Benz.

All he had to do was pay the fees to the Mega Millions so the winnings could be inspected and cleared for delivery. Sadly, he sent thousands of dollars.

Stacie Johnson is a US Postal Inspector. Johnson says, "He always thought it was to never send money out of the country. The fact that the money was still in the US made him comfortable with believing he really did win something."

The truth: the letter is part of a foreign lottery scam that was unraveled after a local bank called postal inspectors.

Johnson says, "Individuals coming in asking odd questions about wiring money and about their accounts in general."

Bank tellers said one of the suspicious men was asking about wiring $15,000 a month and wanted to know exactly how the wiring process worked.

Johnson says, "They thought they were dishwashers or cooks at this resort, and they thought since that didn't add up to $15,000 a month, then they contacted their fraud department."

Postal inspectors began tracking the money and eventually got a search warrant for the suspect's home.

"Bank statement, wire transfers, deposits and withdrawals going through bank transfers," Johnson says. "From that information, we got to speak to five victims."

Inspectors say there were at least 30 victims.

"One woman said her daughter was dying of cancer and her medical bills were piling up and she and her family didn't know what to do. She thought this was a Godsend and could help her daughter in her final days."

Investigators found this note in the suspect's home begging for her money back. It said: 'Please send my $450.00 back. I have bills to pay, otherwise they are going to turn everything off.' She goes on to say, 'I hope you do the right thing and send my money back.'

Inspectors say the five suspects in this case were 'middle men' to people in Jamaica, running the foreign lottery scam. All five people were indicted and deported back to Jamaica.

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