"The fraudsters are vicious!" World War II vet targeted in sweepstakes scam

LOS ANGELES — It was the promise of big money and a luxury car that lured victims into a scam targeting senior citizens across the country.

"They tell me, you won $425,000," said fraud victim, Pierre Berg.

Berg was thrilled to hear he won a sweepstakes lottery and a brand new car.

"They always have a Mercedes on a flatbed waiting to be delivered," Berg said.

To collect his winnings, Berg had to pay processing fees and insurance. The con-artists gave him clear instructions.

"Where is your closest drug store? You have to get one of those Green Dot cards," Berg recalled.

Berg put hundreds on the card, scratched off the back sticker and gave the number to the people who said he'd won money.

"Most people don’t realize it, but the moment you scratch it and tell him the number — he empties the thing," Berg said.

He lost $500 that was put on the card and the hits just kept on coming.

"They knew how to milk you. There was always a new hurdle — new obstacle. You had to come up with money," Berg said.

Between purchasing Green Dot cards and sending money orders to Costa Rica, the World War II veteran lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in varying lottery scams.

"They got quite a bit of money out of me," admitted Berg.

Berg knows other victims who lost everything.

"Some people have committed suicide when they found out they were suddenly penniless thinking they were going to make a fortune," Berg revealed.

Postal inspectors say older Americans are often the targets of scams like these.

"The fraudsters are vicious. They want to take anything they can from these poor seniors that are being duped into believing they won something," said U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Schissler.

No legitimate lottery will ever ask for money up front for fees, taxes or insurance.