Consumer Alert: Con artists can scam anyone

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - If you think you're not vulnerable to con artists, don't be fooled. Even the brightest people can be easily tricked by the promise of big money.

Lawrence Hawkins says con artists preyed on his father, costing him more than $60,000.

"A few days after my mother died, my father got some sort of letter in the mail, saying she won some multi-million dollars," says Hawkins.

The letter told Hawkins' father to pay taxes on the winnings. The scammers didn't stop there, continually asking for more money.

"He was paying out like the green grocer, every week," Hawkins says.

A telemarketing firm eventually got Hawkins information and started soliciting him over the phone too.

"It's really insidious, these people are persistent and they don't know how to take 'no' for an answer," Hawkins says.

So, how could an Army Veteran and former biochemist for the National Institute of Health fall for this scam?

"I think my father was lonely and I think what these scam people did on some level was provided some kind of consistency, there would be a consistent phone call coming in. The only thing my father got out of this was grief," says Hawkins.

Lawrence says he wished his father had told him sooner, but U.S. Postal Inspectors say what happened is typical.

"It's the embarrassment and a lot of times it is fear of telling their families," says U.S. Postal Inspector Lori McAlister

"Anybody who thinks they will not fall victim to some kind of fraud or scam or what have you, be sure. Check in with your parents, check in with your grandparents, check in with your aunts, uncles, elderly cousins. Whatever it is check in with them and make sure everything is okay," says Hawkins.

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

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