Postal inspectors warning of foreign lottery scam

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- You've won! All you've got to do is pay a processing fee, or give out some personal information to collect your winnings. It seems reasonable, but FOX6's Contact 6 says you need to protect yourself.

Glenn Anschutz was told he was the lucky winner of $3 million and a 2012 Mercedes Benz.

All he had to do was pay fees to the Mega Millions, so the winnings could be inspected and cleared for delivery.

Sadly, he sent thousands of dollars.

"He always thought it was to never send money out of the country. The fact that the money was still in the U.S. made him comfortable with believing he really did win something," U.S. Postal Inspector Stacie Johnson said.

As it turned out, the letter was part of a foreign lottery scam that was unraveled after a bank called postal inspectors.

"Individuals coming in asking odd questions about wiring money and about their accounts in general," Johnson said.

Bank tellers said one of the suspicious men was asking about wiring $15,000 a month, and wanted to know exactly how the wiring process worked.

"They thought they were dishwashers or cooks at this resort. They thought since that didn't add up to $15,000 a month, they contacted their fraud department," Johnson said.

Postal inspectors began tracking the money, and eventually got a search warrant for the suspect's home.

"Bank statements, wire transfers, deposits and withdrawals going through bank transfers. From that information, we got to speak to five victims," Johnson said.

Inspectors say there were at least 30 victims.

One woman said her daughter was dying of cancer, and her medical bills were piling up and she and her family didn't know what to do. She thought this was a Godsend, and could help her daughter in her final days.

Inspectors say the five suspects in this case were middle men to people in Jamaica running the foreign lottery scam. All five were indicted and deported.