Consumer Alert: Sweepstakes scams - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Consumer Alert: Sweepstakes scams

Consumer advocates warn of sweepstakes scams (Source: WOIO) Consumer advocates warn of sweepstakes scams (Source: WOIO)
Con artists specifically target those they know may be more vulnerable to all the scams going around this days, not just in Ohio, but all over the country.

That's how one elderly veteran from Texas, a man who risked his life for our country, got taken for all his money.

"They got me real good. I thought I was smarter than that," says Edgar Wollam.

Wollam ran a popular restaurant for decades and had prepared for his retirement.

But thieves running a lottery sweepstakes scam literally took it all.

It started when he got a call saying he won $3.5 million. All he had to do was pay the fees.

"They start at a relatively low suM, maybe $300-$400. Then they keep going up and before you know it - you're in the thousands," says Edgar.

They lured him along, telling him he had also won a Mercedes Benz.

They try to convince you they are your friends and want to make sure you get your money.

U.S. Postal Inspector Christopher Carillo says these thieves work together.

"List brokers take those names and pass them on to other people who are trying to get a hold of you. They are looking for that four to six percent response rate on those thousand names they send out," says Carillo.

In all, Edgar lost $25,000. His savings gone, money he had saved for a purpose.

"It will help me do something I've wanted to do all of my life. Take care of my family," says Edgar.

Sadly, con artists often take aim at the elderly. So postal inspectors have simple advice.

"If you don't know the number. Don't answer the phone," says Carillo.

Postal inspectors also remind consumers that no legitimate lottery will ever ask for money up front.

A lottery from out of the country is definitely a scam. They're not legal here.

Click here to find the top 12 signs of sweepstakes scam.

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