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Rip-Off Alert: Lottery sweepstakes scam lures Harvard-educated lawyer

What would you do with $30 million? It could make your head spin just thinking about the possibilities. That is exactly what some scammers are counting on. (KSNV)

What would you do with $30 million? It could make your head spin just thinking about the possibilities. That is exactly what some scammers are counting on.

Postal inspectors learned that the crooks worked hard to get the victim, a Harvard-educated lawyer, to fall for the lottery sweepstakes scam.

“This brilliant lawyer, someone I have looked up to my whole life, could fall for something like this,” said Michael DeGeurin, the son-in-law of the victim.

“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,” DeGeurin said.

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,” DeGeurin said. “A year later, it was still happening, but he had gone and he kind of hid it.”

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

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

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

“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,” Carter said. “I think that is the way to open the door to conversation.”

DeGeurin decided to move his father-in-law from the Alabama community he has lived in all his life to his home in Texas to keep a closer eye on him.

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

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