Consumer Alert: Widow's winnings turn out to be scam

The voices on the phone were friendly and persistent.
They convinced an elderly widow to part with tens of thousands of dollars.
As WKYT's Amber Philpott found, its part of a billion dollar scam that might target you next.

"She received a phone call saying she won $2.5 million dollars and she had to pay the sales tax on it," said Michelle Lauciello.

Michelle is talking about her mother, who lost more than $100,000 in a lottery sweepstakes scam.

"I feel like if they can get her, they can get anyone. It's just awful that they are so persistent, evil, cruel that they can take that much money from a widow," said Lauciello.

Lauciello said it was con-artists in Jamaica, who convinced her mother to send the money to get her winnings.

"She was sending $500 increments," said Lauciello.

Michelle says the voices on the phone were very persuasive and preyed on the fact that her mother was a widow.

"It happened after my father died, and we think that is how she got caught up in this big mess because she was filling a void that in her life."

The family repeatedly warned their mother that this was a scam -but she continued sending money.

"They were brainwashing her basically, is what they were doing."

Michelle's family was forced to take over their mother's finances.

"It was heart wrenching, it was aggravating that she would believe this and that she would believe that you could win money but you have to pay money. We told her over and over and again we would keep telling her that if you win something you don't have to pay."

Foreign lottery schemes may be fleecing American's out of as much as a billion dollars every years and its getting worse.

"The con artists 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," said US Postal Inspector, Frank Schissler.

As always remember, no legitimate lottery will ask you for money up-front.

Keep that in mind when you receive calls, letters in the mail and especially emphasize that message to elderly friends, family and neighbors.

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