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Consumer Alert: Scammers target grieving widow

Louise Mueller had just become a widow. Her son was serving in Iraq and she needed to return to work. The 84-year-old admits she was emotionally overwhelmed when she received the call.

"I was kind of worried about my income, my finances, and how I was going to make it," says Mueller. "He said I won a sweepstakes."

She was told she needed to pay $2,500 in taxes in order to receive her $250,000 prize. She made the payment. No prize ever arrived.

"I did keep saying to them 'where is my money, where is my money?' and they said 'Well, I'll tell you what, we'll meet you at the bank'. I was at the bank. They were not," says Mueller.

"If you're receiving phone calls telling you need to send money in order to collect winnings. Most likely you are being scammed," says U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Schissler.

"They kept calling and calling and calling. One time they called 17 times in 10 minutes," says Mueller.

Mueller lost $20,000 and she knows why she was vulnerable.

"I was sad, I was grieving, and I needed the money. So, I kind of fell for it," says Mueller.

Postal inspectors say con artists prey on the victim's emotions.

"No legitimate lottery or sweepstakes will ask you to send money, wire money or pay any kind of taxes, fees or other types of payment up front in order to collect your winnings," says Schissler.

Postal inspectors say approximately 30,000 calls attempting to defraud Americans are made from Jamaica to the U.S. each day.


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