Rip-Off Alert | Lottery sweepstakes scam targets victims through taxes

Scammers are now targeting victims with what appears to be lottery sweepstakes (KSNV file)

What would you do with $30 million?

It makes your head spin just thinking about the possibilities.

That is exactly what some scammers are counting on.

It even lured a respected Harvard-educated lawyer until the rip-off ended ... with an abrupt interruption.

Michael DeGeurin is still stunned that his Harvard-educated father-in-law is mixed up in a lottery sweepstakes scam.

"This brilliant lawyer, someone I have looked up to my whole life, could fall for something like this," said DeGeurin. "We had noticed that he had started getting a bunch of mail that had to do with cruises and getting gold coins, some of it started becoming things like you may have won this."

The 85-year-old retired attorney and recent widower was told he won $30 million and a new car ... all he needed to do was pay the taxes. And he did.

"Bankers started calling us saying that he was taking out large sums of money from his bank account," said DeGeurin.

When DeGeurin realized what was happening, he sat his father-in-law down and told him it was a scam.

"I figured if he realized it was a fraud, that he would stop. A year later, it was still happening but he had gone and he kind of hid it," said DeGeurin.

Frustrated, DeGeurin began digging and realized just how manipulative these fraudsters can be.

"They changed his cell phone number, they changed his home phone," said DeGeurin.

They got his personal information and altered his phone accounts. They also sent a cab to his Alabama home if he didn't answer the phone.

"What scares me is that they are sending people to his home," said DeGeurin.

"They are having day-to-day interaction or even sometimes hourly interaction with this person," said U.S. Postal Inspector Dana Carter.

Postal inspectors say it is important for adult children to start the difficult conversation with loved ones.

"Monitoring of bills and savings and checking accounts and even retirement accounts. I think that is the way to open the door to conversation," said Carter.

DeGeurin has decided to move his father-in-law out of state to monitor him more closely.

Postal inspectors want to remind consumers that no legitimate lottery will ask for money to be paid upfront in order to receive a prize.

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