Contact 6: Foreign lottery scams target the elderly

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Foreign lottery scams are draining consumers out of $1 billion a year. Many of the victims are the elderly who end up losing their live savings.

"But Mom these can`t be real. And she would say 'No they wouldn`t do that. It has my name on it. It has my name on it,'" Cha Roberts said.

Marcia Jones and Roberts are frustrated and feel helpless. Their 88-year-old mother, Elizabeth has already lost thousands in foreign lottery schemes -- and she won't stop.

"She is convinced she is going to get a car, and $30 million, and she will always ask 'what kind of car do you want?'" Jones said.

"In a weeks` time, 'on Saturday I`m getting $25 million, on Monday I`m getting $12 million from a different source' and I say 'I hope you do mom,'" Roberts said.

"If you go to her house today, and it`s very depressing to me because there is nothing, you can`t see her table. For her mail it`s in the dining room and family room it`s everywhere," Jones said.

The sisters have tried everything, including writing the Postmaster General asking for help. Their plea prompted a postal inspector and police officers to come to the mother's home to explain the scams.

"She was very, very angry with us that we 'turned her in,'" Jones said.

Despite their best efforts, Elizabeth still believes her big pay day is imminent.

"Unfortunately, she was a true believer in the fraudsters, and they had befriended her and thought she won something. We were unable to convince her she had been scammed," U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Schissler said.

Meanwhile, the sisters are at a loss.

"You trust strangers, but you don`t trust your family and authorities who are telling you from their experience, that people like you are being scammed," Roberts said.

"The fraudsters are relentless, even ruthless. They won`t stop until seniors have no more money to send and then they will recruit them to get money from other seniors," Schissler said.

Elizabeth's daughters just received legal guardianship of their mother so they can monitor her finances, but they really just hope to get through to her. Elizabeth's daughters initially asked if all the foreign lottery mail could simply stop being delivered to their mother's home, but the federal government isn't allowed to interfere with the delivery unless they believe the mail could do physical harm.