Troubleshooter: Don't fall for these lottery scams

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Don't fall for these cons.

This week, I've heard from more than a dozen viewers who are getting calls or Facebook messages saying they've won big.

As much as you want to start the new year a winner, don't fall for this scam.

A woman who asked not to be identified said her 74-year-old mother, a retired school teacher, fell prey to one such scam.

"If she sent this money, she was going to get her money back plus more money and then it just kept on," the woman said.

She didn't want her name used or face shown because she's afraid conmen will continue to target her mother, who has been cheated out of more than $70,000.

How? Paying what she was told were taxes on a multimillion-dollar sweepstakes that con-artists convinced her she won.

"She has always been very frugal with her money, and this is what was so surprising to me, that a stranger could talk her out of such big lump sums of money," the anonymous daughter said.

The scam stopped after a postal employee noticed the woman sending several express packages.

I asked her was she mailing money to someone, that there's often scams going on, where people try to get elderly to mail money," said U.S. Post Office worker Derrek Gunning.

Gunning called postal inspectors who encouraged him to ask the victim to open the package.

"She pulled out some magazines and between the pages of the magazines were hundred-dollar bills," Gunning said.

Inspectors say these con-men manipulate the victims into believing they are friends, and to keep their dealings secret.

"They have created so much trust within the victims, the perpetrators have, that it makes it hard for anybody to really break through that bond that they have," said US postal inspector David Oakley.

If you have an elderly family member, friend or neighbor - keep an eye out for red flags.

Remember, no legitimate lottery will ever ask you for money up front.

Several viewers asked me about calls from people claiming to be with the Publishers Clearing House. These are scam calls, too, as that organization also does not ask you to pay money up front.

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