Wash. family warns of scam targeting seniors, promising big payday

Wash. family warns of scam targeting seniors, promising big payday »Play Video

BATTLE GROUND, Wash. -- A Southwest Washington family wants you to know about a lottery scam that’s left one of their loved ones broke.

The 87 year-old woman gave away thousands of dollars for the promise of a $60 million payday. It’s a scheme that separates some of the most vulnerable people away from their cash.

It starts with a letter in the mail, telling the recipient they’ve won a prize. The catch: they have to call the “lottery” and pay the taxes on it to get it.

That's what happened to a woman in Battle Ground. She asked us not to identify her, so we’re calling her “Hazel.”

She got a letter from a company called “American Mega Lottery” based in Las Vegas. She also called the phone number they instructed her to call to claim her prize. She sent them $1,900 in Green Dot Money Cards to cover the taxes on the $60 million dollar prize.  The “lottery” never sent her the prize. 

Instead, people from the supposed lottery repeatedly call her home asking for more cash.
 
“He wanted money. Go get this. Go get that. Any amount of money. Five hundred dollars or 200 or 900,” Hazel said.

Each time a representative calls, Hazel says they get more aggressive.

“And he just scared me to death, and I did just about everything he told me to because I was afraid of him,” Hazel said.
 
On Wednesday, Hazel’s niece discovered she'd sent $10,000 to “American Mega Lottery” over the past few months. That’s Hazel’s entire savings. She said she has $43 left in her bank account. 

“She got one for 500 one for 400 yesterday. Scratched off the back of the number, gave him the number, which loads it straight on to his Green Dot Visa. He has the actual Visa card. And then he just withdrawals it,” said Hazel’s niece.

That same day KATU witnessed the calls when we visited the woman on Wednesday afternoon. 

The Nevada Secretary of State, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Better Business Bureau don’t have any records for “American Mega Lottery."

The FTC website says this is most certainly a scam; there are victims just like Hazel across the country.

The FTC also says one way to tell if you or a family member is being targeted: no contest will ever make you pay anything to claim a prize.

And a reminder from police: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Police also suggest that families discuss these types of scams with their loved ones, and even go so far as monitoring their mail if there are any doubts someone could become a victim.