NewsChannel 11 Investigates Elderly Mail Scam - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/29/09

NewsChannel 11 Investigates Elderly Mail Scam

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By Nicole Pesecky - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Scammers are preying on the elderly like never before. NewsChannel 11's investigator Nicole Pesecky explains the signs you need to look out for before you become a victim.

Crooks are trying to convince seniors that they've won big. Thieves are using sweepstake or lottery scams to trick you out of your money. We're breaking down the letters, so you can catch a scam, before scammers catch you.

Dwayne Barker is retired and now spends much of his time with his feathered friends. Pulling a fast one on the sharp senior would not be easy. 

"The very first thing in the first paragraph--do not tell the bank officials about your winnings they will trick you. That's a dead giveaway," Barker explains.

After getting a letter, that said he won $250,000.00, but had to pay the taxes on his winnings up front, Barker got on his computer and did some research. "There's enough of it going around and enough people in our current economic state, there would be enough people that man that would be like a gift from heaven," Barker says.

He didn't fall for this scam, but Sgt Robert Ferguson with the Lubbock Police Department says more and more elders are falling victim. "The first thing you need to look for is did you enter this sweepstake or lottery, if you haven't entered the lottery how could you win?" Ferguson explains.

Ruth Comer says she has received several letters like these, and has been scammed in the past. This time, when she received a check from the National Lottery Foundation, Comer checked with her bank first.

"We advise extreme caution even thinking that it might be real, its not," Nan Campbell says this scam is a growing problem across the South Plains and seniors need to know what to look out for.

"The fact that its coming from Canada should be the real red flag," Nan says. A legit check should be connected to the sweepstakes company. Also, beware if there is no return address.

"Most of the times when you look at the letters there are a great number of grammatical errors," Ferguson points out.

He says its almost impossible to track down these scammers, "Many of them come from Nigeria, Africa, the Bahamas."

"If it offers you something for nothing, its not legitimate,"  Ferguson says.

Barker realizes this might not be the last he's seen of these fake checks, but he knows what to look out for. He can now spend more time with his hobbies and less time researching rip offs.

If you get a letter like these and you're still unsure if its legit or not, Lubbock Police say call them, they can help.

And whatever you do--don't send in your money, you will not get it back.

There are several other scams going on which also target the elderly, click here to check them out. www.nabihq.org

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