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Lottery scam victim, 78, becomes scammer, swindles friends

Scam AlertScam Alert: Lottery scam victim, 78, becomes scammer, swindles friends
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Duped friends, neighbors, pastor out of more than $1 million

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — This was the trip that would bring them the jackpot.

Doris Siegel and a friend boarded a plane to Amsterdam in August 2008 for a $1 million payout, money that would finally prove that the Nigerian lottery she'd told friends and neighbors about was no scam.

Siegel and her friend met with five men who called themselves Nigerian businessmen, authorities said. They were taken to the basement of a building and told they would need another $10,000 to see the big money.

When Siegel's friend gave them the cash, they were taken to another room and shown a stack of $100 bills. The men gave them one of those bills, with promises of more to come. The women returned home empty-handed.

In the months that followed, Siegel's luck turned from bad to worse, culminating in her arrest last week on organized fraud charges. Brooksville police have accused the 78-year-old retiree of duping friends, neighbors and even her pastor out of more than $1 million.

As investigators unravel this complicated web, they are left wondering this:

Is Siegel a victim so taken in by a ubiquitous Internet lottery scam that she stole from friends to feed her unrealized dreams of instant wealth?

Or is she a copycat scam artist who used the painful lessons she learned from the so-called Nigerian businessmen to rip off those closest to her, even inventing a fake Dutch lottery and a Guatemalan mission to siphon money from friends?

"She turned from a victim to a perpetrator when she started lying to other folks," Brooksville police Chief George Turner said. "She knew in no uncertain terms that it was a scam. And then she went to other folks and got them to put money up, with the promise of doubling their contributions."

Siegel remains at the Hernando County Jail with bail set at $50,000. But when police took her into custody last week, Turner said, Siegel pleaded with them to place her on house arrest so she could be home to answer a call she just knew was coming from one of her Nigerian business partners.

On Monday, detectives continued to interview possible victims and comb through Siegel's records and computer to get a sense of how much money she collected and where it might have gone. Police also have subpoenaed her bank records.

But Turner said it's doubtful any of the victims would recover their money.

Across the street from Siegel's tidy mobile home in the Hometown Clover Leaf Forest RV Park live Don and Eileen Gabriele, neighbors and friends for the past few years. Police have told them they may have been victims of the scam.

This was not much of a surprise to the Gabrieles. They said Siegel's stories never really added up: She said Scotland Yard was involved in the search for a payout. She repeatedly gave them the names of fictitious banks. And she was always asking for more money.

The couple estimate they have given more than $10,000 to Siegel since September 2007.

"We were really stupid," Don Gabriele said. "We don't know if she's scamming us or grasping for straws."

The Gabrieles finally confronted Siegel in December, when they noticed all the paperwork she had been showing them appeared to come from the same e-mail account. There was no letterhead, the formats of the e-mails were the same and there were a number of misspelled words.

"That's how they spell things in England," Eileen Gabriele said Siegel told them.

Other victims included friends and neighbors, a local businessman and her pastor at the Brooksville Seventh-day Adventist Church. Two of the alleged victims, including the woman who traveled to Amsterdam with her, are thought to have given Siegel at least $330,000 each.

Records show Siegel has had a Hernando County address since the mid 1980s but didn't move into the RV park until 2001. She doesn't appear to have many close family members. She shared her mobile home with a friend until the woman's death in 2001.

Siegel was president of a local travel agency, Around The Earth Travel Inc., until July. Neighbors said she told them that she lived off her Social Security check and meager savings.

"We just felt really bad for her," Don Gabriele said. "But who knows what to believe?"

In 2004, Siegel was apparently duped by the Nigerian lottery scam. She went to police, who told her that she had likely been victimized based on the correspondence she had received.

Siegel then used that information and deception, police said, to fraudulently obtain money from other people. Inside her home, police said, they found reams of paperwork detailing how to operate a lottery scam.

According to police, Siegel approached several victims from January 2008 through this month and asked for money, claiming she had won a lottery in Holland.

Siegel was captured on surveillance tape lying to several of the victims, police said, adding that she later admitted she lied to the victims to obtain their money.

Lottery scams take several forms, usually asking victims to put up their money in return for a piece of the lottery winnings.

Siegel also got contributions by claiming to have started a Guatemalan mission that does not exist, according to the police.

"There's lots of folks to this day who don't know they're victims," Turner said. "If it sounds like free money, then it's probably a scam."

Police are asking anyone who had dealings with Siegel or believes they were victimized to contact the department's Criminal Investigation Division.

News story photo(Click to display in gallery)

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

St. Petersburg Times

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27 comments. Last comment 7 years ago by corius$1918!.
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Raven62's avatar - binary
New Jersey
United States
Member #17843
June 28, 2005
49618 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 30, 2010, 9:30 am - IP Logged

She would make a good Congresswoman.

A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

    konane's avatar - wallace
    Atlanta, GA
    United States
    Member #1265
    March 13, 2003
    3333 Posts
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    Posted: March 30, 2010, 11:18 am - IP Logged

    She would make a good Congresswoman.

       I Agree!    Thud

    Good luck to everyone!

      Velocity's avatar - Gin
      PA
      United States
      Member #63548
      August 1, 2008
      25 Posts
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      Posted: March 30, 2010, 11:32 am - IP Logged

      As the saying goes "A fool and his money....".  How on earth does someone spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a big payout? I wonder if any of them thought, Hmm this seems a bit shady, we are being taken into a basement and told we have to pay $10,000 to see any of the money! Helping someone out is fine, but when your spending $330,000 to get more money, somewhere deep inside you have to realize or at least think that something is "wrong"!

      What's ironic is my Fiances cousin is getting married this year, and she got scammed out of $3,000 of her wedding fund. All I could think is who uses their wedding fund money to help SOMEONE ELSE you don't even know, out-of-state set up a business=SCAM! My Fiances car broke down in January and I didn't even think of touching our wedding fund money to help get another car. We asked his parents, they gave us a decent amount we were able to pay back to get another car, and I still have our wedding fund money.

        tiggs95's avatar - Lottery-036.jpg

        United States
        Member #47420
        November 4, 2006
        3930 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 30, 2010, 12:05 pm - IP Logged

        Doris Siegel had the very first winning lottery system to be posted on LP..To bad she got caught..

          dpoly1's avatar - driver
          PA
          United States
          Member #66141
          October 16, 2008
          1672 Posts
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          Posted: March 30, 2010, 2:44 pm - IP Logged

             I Agree!    Thud

          She is just as crooked as those in charge in the "City of Satan" - Washington DC!

          Puke

            Avatar
            New York,
            Panama
            Member #73078
            April 4, 2009
            3490 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: March 30, 2010, 9:39 pm - IP Logged

            She is just as crooked as those in charge in the "City of Satan" - Washington DC!

            Puke

            Nope! I  beg to Differ.  Washington Scams The Whole Country!   They Have Doris Beat By a Long Shot!!!

            forget what "they" say about youWhat you say about you?...

            Now, does it count??

             

             

            *Jr$ina

              tiggs95's avatar - Lottery-036.jpg

              United States
              Member #47420
              November 4, 2006
              3930 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 30, 2010, 9:48 pm - IP Logged

              Nope! I  beg to Differ.  Washington Scams The Whole Country!   They Have Doris Beat By a Long Shot!!!

              jrosina your not Doris are you?..My oh my..

                Raven62's avatar - binary
                New Jersey
                United States
                Member #17843
                June 28, 2005
                49618 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: March 30, 2010, 10:52 pm - IP Logged

                When one stops and thinks about it, this situation came about due to the Federal Governments inability to stop the Scamming of American Citizens from Nigeria, which has been going on for Years!

                A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                  RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                  mid-Ohio
                  United States
                  Member #9
                  March 24, 2001
                  19816 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: March 30, 2010, 11:02 pm - IP Logged

                  When one stops and thinks about it, this situation came about due to the Federal Governments inability to stop the Scamming of American Citizens from Nigeria, which has been going on for Years!

                  You would think after hearing about these scams for years, American Citizens would get smarter.

                   * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                     
                               Evil Looking       

                    rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                    Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
                    United States
                    Member #73904
                    April 28, 2009
                    14903 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 30, 2010, 11:22 pm - IP Logged

                    My 2 Nigerian emails made it a lot easier. All they needed was my bank account numbers to deposit my 6 million dollars and my credit card numbers for the small transaction security fee and my social security number and mother's maiden name to make sure I was who I said I was.

                    It wasn't from a lottery win but just a deposed African King needed to get his money out of the country quickly and decided my bank account would be the best place for it and would pay me 6 million for letting him put it there.

                    He sounded like a real nice guy. Terrible speller though.


                                                                 
                                         
                                                             

                     

                     

                     

                     

                                                                                                                       

                    "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                                --Edmund Burke

                     

                     

                      LANTERN's avatar - kilroy 28_173_reasonably_small.jpg
                      Tx
                      United States
                      Member #4570
                      May 4, 2004
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                      Posted: March 30, 2010, 11:39 pm - IP Logged

                      You would think after hearing about these scams for years, American Citizens would get smarter.

                      Getting smarter? I don't think so!

                      Grand theft?

                      What would you call this?

                      <Texas Lottery>

                      Now, that is a really good "Racket"

                      I would not call it a racket, but:

                      PreDraws

                      Sales end about 30 minutes before the "final" draw.

                      All combinations sold are sent to some computer somewhere, long before the final draw.

                      ------------

                      Even before computers and lottery terminals were used, lottery draws didn't have to be honest, but to me it looks worse now.

                      -----------

                      I don't say that the lottery draws are not honest, but I don't say that they are, I say that I don't know, but that they can be either.

                      BibleOnline  ParishesOnline  ChristianRadioOnline   MassOnline   Mass

                      "Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem."

                        LANTERN's avatar - kilroy 28_173_reasonably_small.jpg
                        Tx
                        United States
                        Member #4570
                        May 4, 2004
                        5180 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: March 30, 2010, 11:42 pm - IP Logged

                        My 2 Nigerian emails made it a lot easier. All they needed was my bank account numbers to deposit my 6 million dollars and my credit card numbers for the small transaction security fee and my social security number and mother's maiden name to make sure I was who I said I was.

                        It wasn't from a lottery win but just a deposed African King needed to get his money out of the country quickly and decided my bank account would be the best place for it and would pay me 6 million for letting him put it there.

                        He sounded like a real nice guy. Terrible speller though.

                        Many years ago, I got my own Nigerian email, can't remember, but I think that it was about the same as yours.

                        BibleOnline  ParishesOnline  ChristianRadioOnline   MassOnline   Mass

                        "Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem."

                          cypher's avatar - shapes swish.jpg

                          United States
                          Member #80204
                          September 18, 2009
                          35 Posts
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                          Posted: March 31, 2010, 12:49 am - IP Logged

                          In the world of the con the victim prefers a beautiful lie rather than the ugly truth...only seeing what they want to see and not what is!

                          "Quite often, more is less!"

                            Avatar
                            North Brunswick NJ
                            United States
                            Member #39013
                            May 8, 2006
                            12205 Posts
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                            Posted: March 31, 2010, 8:09 am - IP Logged

                            Doris , the scammer wound up in the slammer.