Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited December 4, 2016, 3:06 am
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

Baltimore man, 81, loses his home after falling for lottery scam

Scam AlertScam Alert: Baltimore man, 81, loses his home after falling for lottery scam
54
Rating:

The first caller told Norman Breidenbaugh he had won $2.5 million in a foreign sweepstakes, but there was a catch: Breidenbaugh needed to send $2,000 in fees before collecting his earnings.

Other calls followed, promising Breidenbaugh millions more — even a Mercedes Benz — as long as he would wire some money to pay taxes on the prizes. He obliged, sending more than $400,000 over about six years, hoping the promised winnings would cover his wife's medical expenses.

The prizes never came. The people calling Breidenbaugh, 81, were con artists from Canada and Jamaica, claiming they were Border Patrol or Secret Service agents, a fraud scheme that has increasingly targeted elderly people. Breidenbaugh fell behind on property taxes and last year lost his Baltimore home.

"I never told anybody what kind of mess I was in because I was too proud, too stubborn to let anybody know it," he said. "I'd like to wring the necks of these people."

Breidenbaugh plans to share his story with his peers at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Augsburg Lutheran Home and Village, in hopes of helping others avoid being taken in.

The event, hosted during National Consumer Protection Week, is part of an effort by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to teach senior citizens to avoid sweepstakes scams — a type of telemarketing fraud.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service estimates Americans lost more than $42 million to lottery fraud between 2009 and 2011. Many of the scams the inspection service dealt with originated in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries, inspector Frank Schissler said, and targeted senior citizens.

In 2009, Jamaican and American authorities partnered to create a task force to crack down on Jamaican lottery schemes. And members of Jamaica's House of Representatives took up a bill on Tuesday that would more aggressively prosecute Jamaicans accused of lottery fraud conducted within and outside the country.

The proposed legislation states that lottery scams have become widespread and pose a threat to Jamaica because they are a combination of both organized and financial crime. "The law in its present stage has proven to be ineffective in prosecuting offenders," the bill reads.

According to Federal Trade Commission data, lottery scam complaints about Jamaican companies have risen dramatically over the past five years, from 3,606 in 2008 to a projected 28,702 last year.

Terrill Caplan, chief security officer with the nonprofit victim advocacy organization Fraud Aid, said most lottery scams come out of West Africa and are run over the Internet. Jamaican lottery fraud is less common, he said, but what sets it apart is that its perpetrators specifically go after senior citizens.

From January to September in 2012, people between the ages of 60 and 69 logged more than 1,400 lottery scam complaints against Jamaican companies and reported losing more than $4 million, according to FTC data. People 70 and older made more than 3,000 complaints and reported more than $9 million lost.

Karen Straughn, with the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland attorney general's office, said senior citizens are "prime targets" for lottery fraud because many live on fixed incomes and are more likely to take a chance on extra money.

Schissler said lottery schemes account for more than half of the telemarketing fraud against people who are 60 or older. The most successful scammers chat with senior citizens, learn about them and then use that knowledge against them, he said.

The people calling Breidenbaugh found out his wife had dementia and was in a nursing home. They told him that if he sent them money, he could use his winnings to bring his wife back to his house and hire someone to care for her.

Breidenbaugh, whose wife has since died, said he has no legal recourse against the "scumbags" who scammed him. He now lives in Nottingham with a family friend.

"No, you can't prosecute them," he said with a laugh. "You don't have any idea of knowing who they are or where they are."

Breidenbaugh said the best advice he can offer people who might be facing sweepstakes scams is to avoid conversation with anyone who calls asking for money.

"Do not say a word — just hang the phone up," he said. "Because if you say anything, they got you."

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

Baltimore Sun

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

95 comments. Last comment 4 years ago by helpmewin.
Page 1 of 7
Chris$'s avatar - Sphere animated2.gif
P A
United States
Member #117331
October 3, 2011
6915 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 7, 2013, 9:42 am - IP Logged

The first caller told Norman Breidenbaugh he had won $2.5 million in a foreign sweepstakes, but there was a catch: Breidenbaugh needed to send $2,000 in fees before collecting his earnings.

Other calls followed, promising Breidenbaugh millions more — even a Mercedes Benz — as long as he would wire some money to pay taxes on the prizes. He obliged, sending more than $400,000 over about six years, hoping the promised winnings would cover his wife's medical expenses.

The prizes never came. The people calling Breidenbaugh, 81, were con artists from Canada and Jamaica, claiming they were Border Patrol or Secret Service agents, a fraud scheme that has increasingly targeted elderly people. Breidenbaugh fell behind on property taxes and last year lost his Baltimore home.

"I never told anybody what kind of mess I was in because I was too proud, too stubborn to let anybody know it," he said. "I'd like to wring the necks of these people."

Breidenbaugh plans to share his story with his peers at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Augsburg Lutheran Home and Village, in hopes of helping others avoid being taken in.

The event, hosted during National Consumer Protection Week, is part of an effort by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to teach senior citizens to avoid sweepstakes scams — a type of telemarketing fraud.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service estimates Americans lost more than $42 million to lottery fraud between 2009 and 2011. Many of the scams the inspection service dealt with originated in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries, inspector Frank Schissler said, and targeted senior citizens.

In 2009, Jamaican and American authorities partnered to create a task force to crack down on Jamaican lottery schemes. And members of Jamaica's House of Representatives took up a bill on Tuesday that would more aggressively prosecute Jamaicans accused of lottery fraud conducted within and outside the country.

The proposed legislation states that lottery scams have become widespread and pose a threat to Jamaica because they are a combination of both organized and financial crime. "The law in its present stage has proven to be ineffective in prosecuting offenders," the bill reads.

According to Federal Trade Commission data, lottery scam complaints about Jamaican companies have risen dramatically over the past five years, from 3,606 in 2008 to a projected 28,702 last year.

Terrill Caplan, chief security officer with the nonprofit victim advocacy organization Fraud Aid, said most lottery scams come out of West Africa and are run over the Internet. Jamaican lottery fraud is less common, he said, but what sets it apart is that its perpetrators specifically go after senior citizens.

From January to September in 2012, people between the ages of 60 and 69 logged more than 1,400 lottery scam complaints against Jamaican companies and reported losing more than $4 million, according to FTC data. People 70 and older made more than 3,000 complaints and reported more than $9 million lost.

Karen Straughn, with the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland attorney general's office, said senior citizens are "prime targets" for lottery fraud because many live on fixed incomes and are more likely to take a chance on extra money.

Schissler said lottery schemes account for more than half of the telemarketing fraud against people who are 60 or older. The most successful scammers chat with senior citizens, learn about them and then use that knowledge against them, he said.

The people calling Breidenbaugh found out his wife had dementia and was in a nursing home. They told him that if he sent them money, he could use his winnings to bring his wife back to his house and hire someone to care for her.

Breidenbaugh, whose wife has since died, said he has no legal recourse against the "scumbags" who scammed him. He now lives in Nottingham with a family friend.

"No, you can't prosecute them," he said with a laugh. "You don't have any idea of knowing who they are or where they are."

Breidenbaugh said the best advice he can offer people who might be facing sweepstakes scams is to avoid conversation with anyone who calls asking for money.

"Do not say a word — just hang the phone up," he said. "Because if you say anything, they got you."

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

What a shame. Its horrible to scam someone and its really too bad
at the age if 81 he still doesnt know there is no such thing as free money
If it sounds to good to be true it usually is....

♠♣♥♦= $$$$

    Avatar
    Sunny California
    United States
    Member #40295
    May 31, 2006
    7712 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: March 7, 2013, 9:51 am - IP Logged

    Uh...excuse me...did I read $400,000 over 6 years? After even the FIRST year don't you think you'd figure out it was some kind of a scam? Yeah,it's sad and all but how many more of these do we have to read about before folks wake up.

    If he had that kind of money to begin with...well,now...that's a nice chunk of change that most people don't even have sitting in their bank account. Why wasn't he using that instead for his wife's care. 

    Greed is a horrible thing.


      United States
      Member #116268
      September 7, 2011
      20244 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: March 7, 2013, 10:08 am - IP Logged

      Uh...excuse me...did I read $400,000 over 6 years? After even the FIRST year don't you think you'd figure out it was some kind of a scam? Yeah,it's sad and all but how many more of these do we have to read about before folks wake up.

      If he had that kind of money to begin with...well,now...that's a nice chunk of change that most people don't even have sitting in their bank account. Why wasn't he using that instead for his wife's care. 

      Greed is a horrible thing.

      How bout, after the first DAY people should be asking questions.


        United States
        Member #116268
        September 7, 2011
        20244 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 7, 2013, 10:12 am - IP Logged

        This is why I don't answer calls from strange area codes. Anyone who answers such calls ends up on some vary strange LISTS.

          Avatar

          United States
          Member #72894
          March 30, 2009
          27 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: March 7, 2013, 10:12 am - IP Logged

          I haven't been to a foreign country or entered a foreign lottery so how could I have won?  That should have been the first question!  Then he should have hung up the phone...


            United States
            Member #116268
            September 7, 2011
            20244 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: March 7, 2013, 10:17 am - IP Logged

            I think some people wait their whole life to here the words "Your a winner"

              MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
              Beautiful Florida
              United States
              Member #5709
              July 18, 2004
              20108 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 7, 2013, 10:31 am - IP Logged

              If only the Television stations around the country would Air warnings about these scammers, a lot of this would never happen.

              They can Air time other items of their choosing, why not Air time something to help these Seniors....

                                                           

                                                             "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

                RedStang's avatar - tallman zps6gf4inoc.jpg
                NY
                United States
                Member #121961
                January 21, 2012
                3157 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: March 7, 2013, 10:40 am - IP Logged

                If only the Television stations around the country would Air warnings about these scammers, a lot of this would never happen.

                They can Air time other items of their choosing, why not Air time something to help these Seniors....

                That would make a good Dateline show. Scam a bunch of people, then give it back and watch their jaws drop.

                  RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                  mid-Ohio
                  United States
                  Member #9
                  March 24, 2001
                  19817 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: March 7, 2013, 10:58 am - IP Logged

                  That would make a good Dateline show. Scam a bunch of people, then give it back and watch their jaws drop.

                  They would have to make a lot of phone calls before they found a poor greedy sucker with $400K to scam.

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

                    dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                    Oklahoma
                    United States
                    Member #82391
                    November 12, 2009
                    6290 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 7, 2013, 11:10 am - IP Logged

                    All I can say is if your parents & grandparents are still living please make sure you check on them ask questions about their finances.

                    I Love Pink & Green 1908

                      savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
                      adelaide sa
                      Australia
                      Member #37136
                      April 11, 2006
                      3300 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: March 7, 2013, 11:11 am - IP Logged

                      maybe he has dementia, and forgot how much he sent?

                      2014 = -1016; 2015= -1409; 2016 JAN = -106; FEB= -81; MAR= -131; APR= - 87: MAY= -91; JUN= -39; JUL=-134; AUG= -124; SEP = -123; OCT= -84  NOV=- 73 TOT= -3498

                      keno historic = -2291 ; 2015= -603; 2016= JAN=-32, FEB= +12 , MAR= -86, APR = -77. MAY= -48, JUN= -29, JUL=-71; AUG = -52; SEPT= -43; OCT = +56 NOV = -33 TOT= -3297

                        rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                        Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
                        United States
                        Member #73904
                        April 28, 2009
                        14903 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: March 7, 2013, 12:44 pm - IP Logged

                        Governments could catch these guys if they worked together or really cared about it.

                        But they really don't care about it cuz there's no payoff for them.

                        It's every man for himself nowadays.


                                                                     
                                             
                                                                 

                         

                         

                         

                         

                                                                                                                           

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

                                                                                                                    --Edmund Burke

                         

                         

                          noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                          Bay Area - California
                          United States
                          Member #136477
                          December 12, 2012
                          4104 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: March 7, 2013, 12:48 pm - IP Logged

                          This is why I don't answer calls from strange area codes. Anyone who answers such calls ends up on some vary strange LISTS.

                          Darn straight. I get phone calls from time to time with area codes l am not familiar with, l simply press " delete"- if it is a relative whose moved into those area codes, they had better send an email letting me know  ' cause lm not picking up.
                          Sad story no doubt but at least his gonna warn others about this deceptive practice by some  worthless folk out there.

                            Bleedblue21's avatar - blues logo_medium.gif
                            New Member
                            Fenton, MO
                            United States
                            Member #139946
                            March 7, 2013
                            11 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: March 7, 2013, 1:21 pm - IP Logged

                            It seems that since Americans are being targeted for these scams (more directly the senior citizens)...I believe the way we retaliate against these foreign countries is to BOYCOT TRAVELING TO THESE DESTINATIONS !!!

                            Hit them in the pocketbook the same way they hit us.  Stop traveling to Jamaica...pretty simple solution to me.  Will teach their government to be more strict on ALL illegal internet activity...and if they see tourist monies dropping at an alarming rate, perhaps they will get the picture.

                            Just sayin'

                             

                            Smash (Drop the Hammer !!!)