HOUSTON, Tx. — There's a new twist to an old scheme that continues to lure people in. Con-artists have come up with one more way to deceive potential victims of foreign lottery scams.
U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Larson said, "He explained to me... I mean who doesn't dream of winning the lottery? He was contacted and told you have won the lottery and in order to collect that prize money you need to pay the taxes to get it out of the country and to the us."
The victim sent the money. In fact, he sent all of his retirement savings. Larson said, "He said the folks said, 'I don't have any more money to win.' Part of the catch, I'm going to help you out as long as you pay me back some of the money."
And there is a new layer to the foreign lottery scheme.
Larson said, "When he ran out of that money, the scammers started explaining to him, hey look we have sponsors here that can help you." They essentially told other victims they too won the lottery and to send their fee money to the original victim.
The move helped the con-artists perpetuate the scam. Larson said it made it seem more legit because they weren't sending the money to another country.
Postal inspectors warn all consumers to remember that foreign lotteries are illegal.
Another point to remember: No legitimate lottery will ever ask for money upfront, and no legitimate lottery has fees or taxes that need to be paid upfront.