Don't fall victim to this lottery scam - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Don't fall victim to this lottery scam

Diane Mattingly is not a wealthy woman.  She lives modestly, has a good heart and is trusting.

From time to time, she enters contests and lotteries.  She hopes to win big one day and do something important with the money.

That's why it didn't seem too far-fetched back in March when she got a phone call from a man who said she had won.

"He said I won $3 million and a new Mercedes.  I thought it was great, I was really excited," Mattingly said.

She says he sounded like the real deal.  He promised her he wasn't a fraudster.  He was polite and excited for her.  He said he'd been in the business for more than two decades and she could trust him.

"For every question I asked him, he had an answer," she said.

Over a period of several weeks, Diane talked to several men with the "lottery".  Eventually they started asking her to wire them some money.  They told her she'd be paying the taxes on her winnings.

"They said it was the easiest way to make sure the government didn't get hands on my money," Mattingly said.

Before she knew it she sent them $9,000 and had racked up hundreds of dollars in phone bills.

"They've been at this a long time and these criminals can anticipate the push-back they'll get from customers.  They always have a ready answer there," said Tom Bartholomy with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau.

He wishes Diane had noticed a few red flags.  If you don't have a specific record or recollection of entering a certain lottery, you probably didn't.  If you have to pay money to get your winnings, it's probably a scam.  Plus, much of the money Diane wired was sent to Jamaica.  That is where many of these scam artists are based.

"Odds are she's not going to get her money back because it's nearly impossible to track these guys down," said Bartholomy.

Still, Diane has kept her documents and she's contacted the FBI and local Sheriff.  She hates the idea that she was taken advantage of.

"He had me believing something good was going to happen for me for a change in my life," she said.

For more helpful advice from the Better Business Bureau, click here.

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