We've told you on many occasions about fake e-mails claiming you've won millions in some lottery, but criminals have hit a new low: They are now targeting the hearing impaired. A viewer called us after she was fooled into believing she'd hit the jackpot.
You've probably never heard of the U.S.A. Deaf Lottery and it's for good reason: It doesn't exist. But that's not stopping cyber crooks. An e-mail claiming to be from the phony organization is showing up in local inboxes.
"To me it is like, how dare they? But we all know there are people out there like this. But usually when I see something like that, I immediately delete it," said Ron Lanier, an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Like most of these e-mail deceptions, these criminals are phishing for information. Our viewer was told her deaf friend had recently won $550,000 and she was a winner, too. The catch was that to collect, she had to give up loads of personal information, including her banking details.
"It is someone trying to get something from you and you will get nothing in return," Lanier said.
When the viewer realized this was a scam, she quickly contacted her bank. Luckily, her accounts were not compromised.
"I think they are mainly phishing for whoever will take the bait," Lanier said. "There are marketing lists out there that cater to providing information to the deaf and hard of hearing community. Maybe they pick up on that."
Lanier also says some in the deaf community may be confused by the e-mail because American Sign Language is their first language and English is secondary; they may not get all the warnings.
The National Association of the Deaf is also aware of the scam and put an alert on its website, warning people not to reply to the bogus e-mails.
If you think you're a victim, contact your bank immediately.