Foreign Lottery Scam Bilks Couple Out Of Life Savings

It’s a near-urban legend scenario that’s grown all too familiar in the information age. Someone picks up the phone and discovers they’ve won a foreign lottery they never entered, and all they need to do is put up some money in advance for taxes to collect their windfall. This kind of thing is always a scam and seems too outlandish to be taken seriously, but when the con hits its marks, it hits hard.

The State speaks to an elderly South Carolina couple who depleted their six-figure savings account by paying lottery scammers over the past couple years.

The newspaper listened in on a phone call the couple received, from a man who identified himself as from the Federal Trade Commission, and the phone call went down like this:

“I got you a special, government-approved 24-hour extension,” Sam assures Lillie. “I know you’re a great person.”

Lillie wavers. Sam becomes more aggressive.

“You need to get this done, or you will throw away this opportunity of a lifetime. To win a contest like this is very, very rare. … Don’t throw this money away.”

Visit the real FTC site to file a complaint against a company that tries to pull one of these ruses on you or yours.

Lottery scams dupe thousands [The State]
(Thanks, Andy!)

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  1. FatLynn says:

    If you read the article, it sounds like these two still don’t understand they are being scammed.

    • pb5000 says:

      yeah, after reading it, I don’t feel sorry for them at all. They are literally asking for it.

      • Starrion says:

        They’re old.

        They don’t understand that people would call them up and outright lie to them.

        They’re like unpatched Windows 2000 computers. Viruses and worms have free reign.

        • zibby says:

          They’re committed, that’s for sure. Meanwhile, nice how word has gotten around in the scamming community and everyone is showing up for a taste.

      • watch me boogie says:

        That is true. At the same time, these scammers are soulless assh*les for what they do to gullible people. Obviously they can’t understand that they’re being ripped off. It makes me angry to see people being taken advantage of like this.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        May God (or someone) have mercy on your icy cold, black, rotten heart.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        So if you forget to lock your door I can come clean out your house? Sweet! What if you have an inadequate lock?

      • Conformist138 says:

        So you’re cool with someone taking advantage of your elderly grandma with potentially declining mental capacity? You sound like a lovely person.

        That said, I am going to be 12 years old for just a second… huhuh, his name is Dick Long ;-)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      These people had just the right formula: dementia, naivete, no close relatives, sole control of finances (meaning that if someone had been involved in controlling their money, this may not have happened), and ignorance.

      • Jevia says:

        It should remind one to keep in touch with elderly parents/relatives and ask questions about anything new, exciting, etc. that might get them to blurt out “Oh, I was told I just won ….” You can then follow up with “how much do they want you to pay for ‘processing’” and ask to see the written documentation.

  2. Dr.Wang says:

    … a selective tax on the stupid…

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      And do you think there should be a “… a selective tax on the stupid…”?

      If so, that says a lot (none of it good) about the type of person you are.

    • absurdist says:

      May you be old and suffering from mild dementia or Alzheimer’s yourself one day.

    • Mr. Pottersquash says:

      not just stupid, but the greedy. You have 6 figures in savings and your willing to blow it just to become a millionarie? meanwhile, ppl live paycheck to paycheck praying there will be a decent sale next circular so they can stock up on can veggies.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      And Hell is a selective tax on the sinners. What they steal in life, they pay for in death.

      Discuss.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        I think the discussion involved *reality.*

        I mean, if this “hell” is such a great punishment, why bother doing anything to them in this life?

    • Wrathernaut says:

      …If only that money went to fund education, instead of the scammers…

  3. Holybalheadedchrist! says:

    Caveat emptor. It is easy to attack the victim, but it doesn’t make these scammers any less culpable. I feel bad for the couple and hope they come out of this a little less naive.

    • WalterSinister2 says:

      “Caveat emptor” means “let the buyer beware”. It’s used to mean “no warranty”, or no effective warranty on the sale of goods or land. Also “sold as is”.

      Generally, it means that unknown defects hit the buyer, not the seller. Selling known defective goods can still bite the seller.

      It doesn’t apply here. These aren’t buyers of defective goods. They are victims of a scam.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        Isn’t a scam a defective good? It isn’t what you were told it was.

      • Holybalheadedchrist! says:

        I understand that, but I was using it in the proper context as a blanket affirmation of the principle of wariness in the marketplace. No, it does not specifically apply in the literal sense, but their story serves as a cautionary tale for anyone considering a risky purchase, or investment.

  4. JollyJumjuck says:

    Real lotteries are scams as well. They prey on the unlucky.

    • corkdork says:

      No, they prey on those who are bad at math.

    • econobiker says:

      Real lotteries take the money away from the mobsters and organized crime. It used to be called “the numbers racket” which people would pay the “numbers guy” and win or lose based on some sort of newspaper published index such as the last three numbers of two stocks or the total average of some sort. The upside to the “numbers racket” was that people got their money immediately and tax free. The down side was that compulsive gamblers would get credit and then owe the gangster too much resulting in injuries or losing large things – cars/homes to the mob…

      • MrEvil says:

        I would say that legit state-run lotteries are a tax on the poor. I don’t see too many people in my tax bracket playing the lottery on a regular basis. In Texas at the very least the stores with the highest lotto sales are in the poorest neighborhoods.

        • SuperSnackTime says:

          *wishes he could find the cite of study that showed the poorest of poor in the US, on average, spends something like 10% of their total income on the lottery*

          you are very right… anyone got that cite? It may be higher than 10%

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          You should have seen the people playing the lotto at the State Fair yesterday. My husband and I sat by the booth just to watch all of those crazy people throwing money down the tube.

    • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

      Actually the real lottery preys on the lucky too, even if you win they still make their money. Then you get taxed pretty heavily on your winnings too.

  5. Sian says:

    The scammers are class A scum, no doubt, but on the other hand, I have absolutely no sympathy for their victims. The only way to get suckered in to one of these is by getting completely blinded by greed.

  6. GMFish says:

    I know I’ll be hated for saying this, but stupid, utterly naive, and ignorant people should not have money. It’s bad for the economy. If they’re not giving their money to scammers, they’re out buying Double Downs and Snuggies. In the end, the scammers did the world a favor. They won’t squander the money they stole on nonsense.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      That might be broke, but at least they’re not arrogant, nasty asses.

      • GMFish says:

        Why am I arrogant? How am I a nasty ass? What basis do you have to use ad hominem attacks against me?

        If I’m wrong, prove it through your words, not your anger. Do you even know how to write a logically coherent counter-argument? Or is lashing out in anger the best you’ve got?

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          Your comment doesn’t deserve any more comment than I gave.

          • GMFish says:

            Your comment doesn’t deserve any more comment than I gave.

            Apparently I was right. That’s what happens when you live a life surrounded by your own feelings. Over time you lack the ability to make coherent objective arguments. All you care about is how you feel, and you lash out at anyone who makes you feel bad. Now that makes me sad, what a waste of a perfectly good brain.

            • myCatCracksMeUp says:

              lol

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              At the same time, you’re providing no argument of your own.

            • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

              The real problem here is that apparently due to GMFish’s lack of empathy, their standard for “objective reality” is one where all scams that are obvious to them are obvious to everyone worthy of empathy. What they fail to recognize is that, to most of the rest of us, even people who are not bright enough to understand when they are being scammed, whether it is due to innate ability or a medical issue that affects cognition and/or judgment, are worthy of empathy and sympathy, and are considered innocent victims precisely because of their lack of discernment.

          • SilverHammer314 says:

            GMFish,

            Had to comment on your classic pseudo-intellectual comments here. Amazing.

            Too many commas and adjectives? (stupid, utterly naive, and ignorant; Neither the law, nor dictionaries, nor reality, defines…) CHECK

            Armchair psychology/Yoda-like turns of phrase? (If I’m wrong, prove it through your words, not your anger.) CHECK

            Constant crowing about logic? MEGA CHECK

            Look, man, logical arguments are good. But when you include a commentary on everyone’s use of logic in their comments, it gets pretty annoying. It also makes you look like a douche, since it’s pretty hard to not fall into logical fallacies in a message board.

            Like you, for instance. You’ve been accused of arguing ad hominem, since you attacked the subjects of the story. They weren’t arguing, but they don’t have to be. I can be arguing ad hominem that Obama is a terrible president because he smokes cigarettes or something. He doesn’t have to be arguing that he is good because of it. It’s still ad hominem, and it doesn’t mean that he isn’t bad (or that these folks are at fault), but it doesn’t do you any favors either.

            You might also be guilty of supposing a false dichotomy, “If they’re not giving their money to scammers, they’re out buying Double Downs and Snuggies.” Granted that’s a joke, but the reasoning that they’re not allowed to have their money because they’re poor buyers and so the scammers SHOULD have the money is not sound.

            I would also dispute that their free spending is bad for the economy, but their free spending was an assumption on your part and so it is likely untrue. Especially given their 6-figure savings.

            Anyway, whatever you do, don’t accuse me of arguing from fallacy on account of this ad hominem argument. I know your arguments aren’t false just because you’re a douche!

        • sonneillon says:

          You attack the victim using the logical fallacy ad hominem and you are complaining that someone did the same to you?

          Hypocrite.

          P.S. I understand that I am no less guilty about insults than the others but at least I am honest about it.

          • GMFish says:

            You attack the victim using the logical fallacy ad hominem

            What names did I use against the “victims”? I called them “stupid, utterly naive, and ignorant” which is completely accurate. They were scammed again and again. They are stupid. They are naive. And they are ignorant about these scams.

            You don’t understand what an ad hominem is. It’s not when you call someone a name. Especially when the name is completely accurate. It’s when you call someone a name in attempt to show the person’s argument is somehow invalid.

            That’s what myCatCracksMeUp, that’s not what I did.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              How about saying that these people go buy snuggies and double downs. That is most definitely ad hominem.

              The fact is, you just think that whatever happens to you is your own fault. If you happen to be stupid or ignorant, it really doesn’t matter if your loss was caused by outside forces – namely unscrupulous scammers – all that matters is that you were unable to prevent it. That if you fall victim to crime, it’s your own damn fault for not stopping it.

              It’s a sad ideology. It’s far too similar to the victimization that goes on in other countries for me to stomach. A dictator’s ideology – where if you are strong you deserve power, and the weak deserve what they get.

              • GMFish says:

                How about saying that these people go buy snuggies and double downs. That is most definitely ad hominem.

                Actually I was making a joke. Maybe you don’t read the Consumerist much, but Double Downs and Snuggies are the two biggest memes on this site. How could I possibility know the purchase history of the victims in this situation?!

                And my use of those names was not an attempt to disprove any argument anyone had made. So, once again, it’s not an ad hominem attack.

                That if you fall victim to crime, it’s your own damn fault for not stopping it.

                As I’ve said before, if someone scams me once, shame on him. If someone scams me hundreds of times, shame on me. The world is not black and white. Sometimes victims are also to blame. This is one of those instances.

                • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                  How can you possibly complaing about someone’s use of hominen and then brush off your own?

                  Hypocrite.

                  I’ll leave it there, since you are clearly beyond hope.

            • SixOfOne says:

              When you refer to them as “stupid” et al, you’re ignoring that they are elderly and that their mental facaulties are not what they used to be. They don’t have kids, and they don’t have any family close enough to educate them and keep them protected, nor are they close with any of their neighbors. As a person who’s grandmother fell into this kind of trap because of the same reasons, dementia and Alzheimers and got herself into 30k worth of debt, this hits home for me personally. These people had saved up at least 100k for their retirement, I wouldn’t call them stupid.

              • moorie679 says:

                more than 100K since the bank would call and tell them that they could not fully insure their money, I think the limit has been raised to 250K but not quite sure.

            • sonneillon says:

              And you were referred to as an arrogant nasty ass which is completely accurate. It is still an attack and you are still a hypocrite.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Those who prey on the weak are what is wrong with this world. Those who support them as just as bad. You are clearly supporting the concept of preying on the weak, and therefore you are what’s wrong with the world.

          If you wish to counter, please explain why taking advantage of those who cannot protect themselves benefits society.

          • GMFish says:

            You are clearly supporting the concept of preying on the weak

            I’m not supporting the scammers. I think they should be caught and criminally charged.

            My point is that the real people at fault are the so called victims. As I’ve said before, the scammers did not take anything. Everything they got was freely given.

            And one more time, scam me once, shame on you. Scam me twice, shame on me.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              I think by the very definition of victim, it’s not the victim’s fault.

              • GMFish says:

                I think by the very definition of victim, it’s not the victim’s fault.

                Neither the law, nor dictionaries, nor reality, defines the word “victim” so narrowly. If you feel the old couple were not at fault, despite willingly falling for the same scam over and over again. That’s great. Your feelings are awesome. They’re simply not reality.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Oh, and yes – I do hate you.

    • moorie679 says:

      yeah they will build roads and fund small businesses on top of donating to libraries and schools.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      RTFA. The husband has dementia, and it doesn’t sound like the wife is much better off. Obviously they had enough sense to save over $100,000, so I assume that this naïveté was the result of later mental diminution. Should someone who develops dementia be deprived of their life savings just because of an incurable condition? If you really have that little sympathy for people with mental issues, then I don’t know what to do for you.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        $100,000 really isn’t that much savings if you’re already retired.

        • AstroPig7 says:

          I have an aunt who has saved nothing for retirement, and she’s in her 50s. Maybe I’m setting the bar too low.

        • The Waffle says:

          If you read the article, it is was a six figured account, but it was more than could be insured. Signifying it is above the FDIC 100,000.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Having seen so many scams I doubt I would fall for these no matter HOW much I loose my faculties. HOWEVER, if I loose my faculties I will end up dead, because I will see everyone offering me help as trying to steal from me, and be one mean old person…

      The fact that old people can be so trusting and easily scammed really speaks to a better time in the history of our society.

    • momtimestwo says:

      Leave my 2 Snuggies out of this!

  7. blogger X says:

    “Dick Long fought in the Philippines under MacArthur.”

    That is a RAD name!

  8. George4478 says:

    >>Lillie said she continues to play because, “I wanted to help him so much.”

    She is continuing to send money after all the publicity about how badly they’ve been ripped off? She not just being scammed; she’s an idiot too.

  9. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    I was hoping to get in with a comment before all the “stupid people are at fault” comments, but it’s almost impossible for me to be that fast.

    What a bunch of jerks – the scammers and the commenters who blame the victims.

    And they’re not “blinded by greed”, they’re hopeful and gullible, neither of which are ugly traits, just hurtful to themselves. Nastiness is an ugly trait.

    • GMFish says:

      hopeful and gullible, neither of which are ugly traits

      What you call “hopeful and gullible” the rest of us recognize as greed combined with medically certifiable cases of naivety and ignorance.

      You can feel sorry for these idiots. Heck, you probably cry at Disney movies and AT&T ads too. But the rest of us live in the real world.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        SOME of you who think you “live in the real world” are simply nasty, hateful asses.

        I hope that you end up alone when you’re old. I’d like to see how well you do then.

        I’m sure you THINK you’ll do just fine and not have any troubles, but I don’t think so.

        • GMFish says:

          I hope that you end up alone when you’re old. I’d like to see how well you do then.

          You call me nasty, hateful, and an ass. You wish me harm in the future. But yet you still think I’m the bad guy. This is exactly what I’ve been talking about. When you live your life reacting to only your feelings, you lack any objective ability to see the world.

          When someone or something comes along and makes you sad, you lash out in anger and venom. Because that’s all you know how to do.

          “I’m sure you THINK you’ll do just fine and not have any troubles, but I don’t think so.”

          Well, I know for a fact that I won’t give out 6 figures to the same scam over and over and over again.

          • myCatCracksMeUp says:

            I’m so sorry I hurt your poor, pitiful, little feelings so much!

            Go run home to mommy and cry about it; I’m sure she’ll give you a cookie to make it all better.

          • SilverHammer314 says:

            GMFish,

            Do you have a blog or something I could follow? I had no idea you had ventured out of the other thread, but here you are! Fantastic!

            And now you’ve apparently eschewed the logical conventions that made you so famous! Sympathetic people don’t live in reality, and typos mean you don’t own a dictionary. Classic GMFish!

            To top it off, you think you’re objective. That’s brilliant. OOOOOH IF ONLY I COULD SEE THE WORLD AS IT IS, THROUGH THE EYES OF GMFISH!

            Consider this my formal request for your newsletter.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        A large portion of women in the United States have cried as a Disney movie. You just aliented half the U.S. population with you ignorant comments.

        • GMFish says:

          You just aliented half the U.S. population with you ignorant comments.

          If I’m right, how am I ignorant? Maybe you should buy yourself a dictionary.

          • AstroPig7 says:

            They were referring to your ignorance of social convention and basic psychology. I also question what you think the real world actually is, because it sounds like a place devoid of any emotion at all. The universe might be uncaring, but humans by and large aren’t, and the last time I checked, society was a big part of the real world (as commonly defined).

      • Rommel says:

        Alright you jerk-off, I don’t normally like flaming, especially since it gets you kicked out, I have something to say.

        You say you live in the real world? Well then, your real world must be Slum City, ’cause guess what, you inconsiderate bastard, I have a friend who has a mental illness. He’ll believe almost anything you say. He’d happily oblige scammers if he thought they needed his help!

        From the way I understand it, they either both had a mental illness of some sort, or they just plain didn’t undertand. My guess is they both understand, but are MENTALLY INCAPABLE OF STOPPING. In their head, they see this as a good thing. They are helping the scammer, which, to them, is a person in need, AND they are receiving money in return. They probably believe they are doing the right thing.

        If you’ve never been around a mentally retarded or mentally disabled person, I can provide 3% leniency. Either way, you’ve proven that you are a very bad person to be around, in general, when it concerns people who are, as your kind put them, “different than us.”

  10. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    There’s a special place in hell for these scammers. Hopefully, this article will help one or two of them realize that they’re taking a lifetime of work away from real people. I won’t hold my breath though.

    • GMFish says:

      taking a lifetime of work away from real people

      The “scammers” didn’t take a single thing. Everything they got was freely given.

      Scam me once, shame on you. Scam me twice, shame on me.

      • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

        That’s what scamming is; taking under false pretenses. Still a crime, still punishable by law. It appears as though you have the same mindset as many of the scammers, which is also shared by sociopaths: “If I got away with scamming them, they must have deserved it!”

        • GMFish says:

          I never said it wasn’t a crime. I never said it was not against the law. I never said the scammers should not be brought to justice.

          I merely said that the scammers never took anything and everything was freely given. Thus, the real blame goes to the victims.

          I also said that if someone scams you once, it’s completely the scammer’s fault. However, once you’ve been scammed twice, you can no longer rely on any statements of the scammers. Thus, it’s your fault for giving under the same scam time and time again.

          • AstroPig7 says:

            If the scammers took nothing, then they committed no crime. If tricking people alone constitutes a crime, then there are a lot of children and pranksters due for their day in court. Scam, in this instance, means defraud, which is defined as ’fraudulently taking or … dishonestly withholding’.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            They obtained the money by lying.

            How is it freely given when it’s obtain through lying? You’re contracting yourself.

            • AstroPig7 says:

              Contracting? Either GMFish is Bulworth, or someone has figured out how to replace part of their body with an apostrophe. :P

  11. moorie679 says:

    They are old, one of them has dementia if you are saying that these people deserve this then you have no heart.We all will grow old sometime in the future and I hope there is someone or an agency that will protect me from these attempts if I end up with dementia/Alzheimer etc.

    • qbubbles says:

      Then their family needs to step up and protect these people. You wouldnt leave a child alone with the internet and $300,000 would you?

      • HoJu says:

        Maybe their kids hate them…?

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        from the article: The elderly couple doesn’t have children, and nearby relatives visit just occasionally.

        We ought to find and convict, and then stone the scammers to death, publicly, live on all the networks and cable stations, with the warning that all this is what will happen to every scammer who is caught and convicted.

        THAT is what ought to happen.

      • moorie679 says:

        In the article it mentions that they have no kids….their other relatives are probably old or older than they are…the article also mentions that they do not get much visits…

        • qbubbles says:

          I find it hard to believe that absolutely no one cares about these people. Obviously someone does since the news got wind of it.

      • watch me boogie says:

        Cases like this are exactly why I won’t allow my mother to get a computer. She would absolutely click every shady scammy thing and end up losing all of what little she has, because she’s really regrettably dumb with computers and has no patience to sit down and learn. If she didn’t have her kids keeping an eye on her, things could get ugly fast.

        Given that we have no kids, my spouse and I need to make sure that we have some protective measures when we, too, inevitably get old and gullible. Part of that will be ensuring that we keep up with technology and the outside world. Actually, consumerist could bounce this piece into tips on How to Prevent the Stupids When You’re Old.

    • GMFish says:

      one of them has dementia

      The key word being that “one” of them has dementia. My mother died from Alzheimer’s, so I’m familiar with the condition.

      If they both had the disease I’d might agree with you. But one was of sound mind and it was her responsibility to protect her own assets.

      As I’ve already said, scam me once, shame on you. Scam me twice, shame on me.

  12. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    By the way, the husband’s name is Dick Long.

  13. dolemite says:

    My grandpa is falling for one of these as we speak. It’s gone on for months…they notified him that he had won, but he needed to pay disbursement fees to get the money (Western Union of course). So he pays that, then he needs to pay for this other fee. Then the agent with the check is otw, but he ran short on travel expenses, so he needs traveling money. Then the “IRS” calls, and wants the taxes on his winnings. I think he’s in the hole for around $4,000 now (could be much much more). The entire family has told him exactly how the scam works, but for whatever reason, he thinks we are out to get him or something. When you go to his mailbox, there is roughly 3 inches of mail every day now of “lotteries” he has won, or people asking for money to “save the indians” or something. It’s like he has no ability to differentiate reality from scams. Someone may have to try and get power of attorney or something before he bankrupts himself…I think everyone is afraid because he is sure to absolutely loathe whoever steps up to do it, indefinitely.

    • qbubbles says:

      Tough shit. Someone needs to step up right now and get him evaluated for mental incompetence and that ruling taken to a judge to get a power of attorney/conservator-ship.

      Now.

      • dolemite says:

        Easy to say, hard to do. Whoever does it will be disowned, and probably never see him again for the rest of his life (yes, he will bear a grudge like that). Great for the other 4 siblings, they will still enjoy seeing him a x-mas, visiting the grandkids, etc. But whoever volunteers to do the right thing can kiss all that goodbye. And honestly, I think only my dad will have the balls to do this, and he’s the one closest to him.

    • backinpgh says:

      This is when his family members need to file for power of attorney and control of his finances.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Is it more important for him not to get pissed off, or for him not to be destitute? Sometimes the hard choice is the right one.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Are they afraid they will be cut out of the will? Usually, when people hesitate to do things like this it is 100% about the will. And, if it is, that’s just shitty.

  14. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    In AFTER all the “blame the OP” comments.

  15. APriusAndAGrill says:

    Hey…. can I get their phone number. I just found out they won the tatooine lottery.

  16. backinpgh says:

    On the one hand you feel bad for them. On the other hand, just imagine the immense greed you would have to have to be blind to all the warning signs.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      They are just naive and gullible, not unduly greedy.

      • backinpgh says:

        Are you sure? Think about it…the FDIC limit is what, $250k? That means they had at least that much money in the bank at their age, with no kids to worry about leaving the money to. They don’t want for anything I’m sure, and yet they feel the need to win more money. If they didn’t want that money so badly, they would have figured out after the first couple of checks and wires that it wasn’t going to happen.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Someone told them they wont money. I don’t care who you are, if someone tells you there’s money in your name somewhere, you go get it.

          But then they were naive, and gave them some money to get the winnings. It backfired. After a few times (again, because of their dementia) you start getting into a situation where you NEED those winnings to make up for the lost money you gave them.

    • qbubbles says:

      I’d go with 40% greed, 60% dementia and stupidity.

    • Hoss says:

      It’s not greed, it’s the need to feel special, and also the loneliness in their lives. Freud had a term for the feeling special part as I recall.

  17. tanyaandkarl says:

    Those victims must be stupid, greedy, gullible, incompetent–something you’re not now or will never be.
    Because if a confidence trickster can get the better of an intelligent and responsible person, then your ass is up for grabs, too.

  18. komodork says:

    Jesus wanted this to happen to you. Deal with it.

  19. jpdanzig says:

    Even after all the abuses, the number one word for marketers, legal or otherwise, is FREE. People can’t resist the possibility of winning something; “you never know” resonates throughout the world.

    My late father, a very smart man then in his eighties, would sometimes call me to report that a mailing he had received from Publishers Clearing House told him he had won a million dollars. I would ask him to read me the headline, which always had a qualifier in smaller type, “If you have the winning ticket…”

    In short, shame on the commenters here dumping on this poor elderly couple; I wonder how gullible these commenters themselves will be when they’re on a fixed income in a few years and the Repugs have rescinded social security…

  20. whatdoyoucare says:

    I really hope there is a special place in hell for those who prey on the most vulnerable in our society.

    And that is why I love the people who are fighting back at http://www.419eater.com .

  21. Jezz1226 says:

    I’m not trying to blame the victim, but genuinely have a question about why this sort of thing occurs. I understand the husband has the onset of dementia, so lets give him a free pass. But why does the wife continue to fall for this? I’m just not understanding the psychology of it, I understand wanting to trust people and thinking they “sound nice”. But after it not working out hundreds of time how does that not break your trust? The general answer seems to be because she is elderly, yet the article doesn’t mention anything about her having any mental problems, so is the theory that all elderly are more likely to fall victims to scams? If so, why is this?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      There’s a huge gray area between being competent and incompetent. I’m sure the wife falls somewhere in that area. Like it or not, with very rare exception our minds and bodies gradually go out on us. If you combine a degree of naivety, trusting of perceived authority, and gradually reduced faculties, then you’re the perfect target for a scam.

      All of these scams work in essentially the same way. They gradually get more and more money out of you for two reasons. First, it tests the waters to see if you’re a good target and second, once people are out of additional money, the more likely they are to go into denial about the whole thing. They keep throwing good money after bad, in hopes that it will fix things.

  22. Zeniq says:

    “Their six-figure banking account — large enough that tellers would remind Lillie that she had too much to be insured — has dwindled to $7,358.”

    The FDIC limit for insured amounts is $250,000. They had more than 250 Grand saved up and blew it away over the course of about 2 years. And not all in one shot, this was call after call, incident after incident, all in the hopes of winning various amounts of money from various foreign countries.

    I can’t imagine. I feel a mix of sympathy and animosity for this couple. Sympathy because they were seriously taken, but really. They had enough money to be really set for a while, and even knowing that they squandered it all away.

    • dolemite says:

      My granny had her house payed off, and in addition, had sold about a bunch of farmland worth around 1 million dollars. She had a stroke years ago, and my mom had to take over paying her bills. Turns out, she spent a lot of money on scratch lottery tickets. How much? Well, the 1 million was gone, and there were now 2 mortgages on the house. So about 1.5 million dollars she spent on scratch lottery tickets over a 10 year period.

  23. jht says:

    Yes, lottery scammers are among the lowest forms of scum, right down there with people who run puppy mills and the ones who throw lit cigarette butts on the ground. It’d be no loss if every lotto scammer was suddenly murdered, and few would prosecute.

    But sorry, the Longs are a couple of senile, greedy, stupid people who still might not deserve their fate but should have someone looking out for them, family or friend. Fall for a scam once, shame on you but I feel sorry for your mistake. Fall for it over and over for years, you’re just a damn fool.

  24. n0th1ng says:

    HEY MY HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN, IT’S ALREADY 50% GONE, MAYBE i SHOULD CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, NAH IT’S GONNA GET BETTER.

    Ok Mr. Jackson you already lost your right leg to diabetes, maybe you should slow down on the sweets. BUT I LIKE SWEETS!!

    dude if you don’t notice that HALF of your life savings are gone and you haven’t received shit, maybe you need mental help like these two. if this is what happens when you get old then someone please watch my bank account…oh wait i will realize that I never entered in a lottery. A lot of you have sympathy for these old folks. I have none. Why didn’t the rest of the senior citizen population fall for such scams? Why do old and young fall for scams?

  25. LaurelHS says:

    These people should have their phone number changed if they’re getting this many calls from scammers.

  26. DerangedKitsune says:

    In this day and age, with the sheer volume of these kinds of horror stories that abound, I CANNOT understand how people still fall for them. It boggles the mind.

  27. banmojo says:

    A fool and his money ….

    Seriously, these people are victims, but they ALLOWED themselves to play the victims, didn’t they? My GOD, they could have called their bank first, a LAWYER for f***’s sake, SoMEBODY!!

    This is how/why the government gets away with social security – most people are TOO DUMB to save for their retirement, so EVERYONE must rely on the government’s crappy inefficient programs which cost twice as much as they should to get retirement saved up (think about all the government salaries we have to pay for this service)

    Pathetic. F***ing pathetic.

  28. Jimmy37 says:

    Sorry, these people aren’t being duped, they’re greedy. They keep fooling themselves every time they say “What do we have to lose” and “This might be the big one”

  29. chaelyc says:

    That’s it. For Christmas this year everyone in my family over 65 is getting an embroidered pillow that says something like “Money doesn’t grow on trees in Nigeria” so they never forget.