Just hang up to avoid scams - CBS46 News

Just hang up to avoid scams

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Just hang up. That's what postal inspectors say you should do the next time you get a call telling you you've won a lottery but have to pay a fee to collect the winnings.

Thousands of people like Karen Hendricks are ignoring that advice and losing their life savings. She was told she had just won $5,000,000 and her whole world was about to change.

"They tell you to sit down because they have some good news for you," says fraud victim Karen Hendricks.

"They convince you - they really make you feel like you're a winner," she said. 

All Hendricks had to do, they said, was pay the taxes and fees to claim her jackpot. So, she sent what she could.

Soon that wasn't enough. Her boyfriend, Michael Washington, says she was encouraged to find other ways to get the money.

"She said she didn't have any more money and they asked could she sell her jewelry? Could she get a loan?" says Washington.

Postal inspectors say Hendricks is just one of thousands of victims each year who are lured into foreign lottery scams.

"The fraudsters are vicious. They want to take anything they can from these poor seniors that are well just being duped into believing they won something," says postal inspector Frank Schissler.

Inspectors involved in Hendricks' case realized it intersected with another case in Las Vegas and they were able to recover $800.

They advise to never pay upfront to claim sweepstakes or lottery winnings. If you are asked for a fee, assume it's a scam.

Hendricks says she realizes she made a mistake and has some advice for anyone who thinks they have won. Think again.

"I just want to warn people… please don't fall for the trap. It's just a trap to try and get your money from you," says Hendricks.

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