Sioux Falls, SD
They make the rounds via phone, email or snail mail again and again, always with a new twist. Foreign lottery scams have been around for years, but they don't go away because they continue to reel in victims.
When a letter arrived in Marlin "Mo" Olson's mail box, he was suspicious right off the bat because of the Canadian postmark.
"I was a little leery when I got the letter, when I opened it I was somewhat surprised. It says I just won $50,000; which would have been great," Olson said.
The letter claims all kinds of major retailers are sponsors of the so-called "Apple Promotions Sales Lottery." It also says the sweepstakes are accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Olson was supposed to call a telephone number, but instead he called the Better Business Bureau.
"It looks like you're calling an Indianapolis number, but actually you are calling a number in Canada," Jessie Schmidt of the Better Business Bureau said.
Olson invited Schmidt of the Better Business Bureau and our cameras to sit in on the call to expose the scam.
"International claim division, how may I help you?" the male caller said.
The man with the foreign accent on the other end of the line asked Olson where he shopped.
"I have shopped at Walmart," Olson said.
"My computer does show me that location where you made your purchase that your name and address was picked up by the database and enrolled in a sweepstakes without your knowledge. Lucky for you, when the draw came up your name was in line for one of the winners. That's how you got the winning," the male caller said.
"Great," Olson said.
"They told Mo that he was secretly entered into a sweepstakes without him knowing about it. The reality is unless you enter a sweepstakes yourself, you're not going to win it," Schmidt said.
Olson was told to cash a $2,800 check that came with the letter and use the money to pay taxes and processing fees. Olson was then to call back once the check was cashed.
"What's going to happen is we're going to call him back and they're going to say there's some fees to wire this into the United States and you need to wire us money," Schmidt said.
Schmidt says once the money is wired it's gone for good and the big prize never arrives.
"Foreign lotteries are against the law. Even if it's totally legit, a foreign lottery is against the law in the United States. There are all kinds of red flags here," Schmidt said.
Olson knows his $50,000 pay day isn't coming anytime soon, but hopes he can warn others not to fall for this scam.
"It would have been great, but that's the way it goes. Win some, lose some," Olson said.
Just as suspected when Olson called the number back he was asked to wire nearly $1,000 to Scotland and not tell Western Union why he was doing it.
These foreign con artists typically hide behind technology with phone numbers that are impossible to trace and they are very mobile. When authorities begin closing in on them, they move locations.
Your Money Matters