The phone rings. There’s good news — you’ve won the lottery. Once you pay the fees, the money is yours.
“The Inspectors” TV show helps people recognize these calls as potential scams, but other targets — often elderly — believe the callers and mail the money.
Thanks to USPS employees who detect warning signs and notify the Inspection Service, Postal Inspectors step in and try to stop the money from reaching the scammers.
“Perpetrators con victims into thinking they are friends,” Charlotte, NC, Postal Inspector David Oakley says in a recent video on lottery scams. “It makes it hard … to break through that bond.”
Charlotte Inspection Service Operations Technician Peggy Kirk recalls a case involving a 92-year-old woman who lost $30,000 in a mail scam. The woman’s family had a hard time convincing her she was being scammed.
“She got mad at them for stopping her from sending more money,” Kirk said.
To help spot victims, Buffalo, NY, Postal Inspector Shelley Carosella suggests USPS employees look for increases in Priority Mail Express mailings and pay attention to customers who mention lottery winnings or “prize taxes.”
“If the customer doesn’t personally know who they are mailing to, fraud could be involved,” Carosella said.