For most of us, playing the lottery can be a fun game of "let's pretend." But for others who are desperate or addicted to gambling, playing the lottery can cost thousands of dollars and serious heartache.
"I got into this terrible situation to offset the terrible losses I incurred. It's very difficult," said fraud victim, Daniel Pipkins III.
Pipkins though he had won the lottery and hoped those winnings would help him recover from steep real estate losses.
"I didn't want to sit around feeling sorry for myself, so I thought I would give it a chance. $10, $4, $30," he said.
The 89-year-old spent more than $3,500 in just one year and never won a thing. Turned out, it was all a scam.
Con artists send out notices saying the victim won a lottery and all he needs to do to collect is pay a fee or taxes on the winnings. Pipkins read all of the notices and found the wording very persuasive.
"I know that I should have backed off on a lot of it, but the phraseology can make you feel as though 'this is your moment," he said.
Postal inspectors say most of the victims are elderly.
"It really affects their standard of living. They are cutting into their utility budget, their food budget, just to participate in these scam lotteries," said Terrence Sullivan, US Postal Inspector.
"There are guys and all they do is scheme stuff up and they may not be next door to you - they could be across the world," Pipkin said.
Postal inspectors said you will never pay up-front fees on valid lottery winnings. Only a scam would ask for money up front.
Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Authorities in Bloomington, Illinois, say a 33-year-old man hid his family's cellphones, killed his two children and intentionally set a house fire before hanging himself.More >
An infant is in extremely critical condition after suffering injuries during a domestic dispute Wednesday morning in Memphis, Tennessee.More >
Two child care workers are in hot water after a Snapchat video surfaced, showing them abusing an 8 year-old autistic boy in their care.More >
Things were so out of control that the principal was forced to clear the entire student section during the third quarter of the football game. He says the students' safety was in question.More >
There's a new incentive for a woman accused of defecating in one Colorado neighborhood to come forward -- a year's supply of toilet paper.More >