LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — While most people dream of winning the Mega Millions lottery, for some people targeted by scammers, the dream is too good to be true.
“You have been selected as the second-place winner in this month’s raffle! We had in the amount of $950,000 U.S. dollars.”READ MORE: Dodgers On Brink Of Elimination After Braves Rough Up Urías, Dominate In Game 4
This is just one of the messages filling Northridge resident Kathy Raven’s machine with empty promises. Raven, 85, is a dog breeder and groomer, calling many Hollywood stars clients. Now, as CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein found out, Raven is the target of alleged scam artists.
Raven has been receiving calls, telling her she has won various raffles and sweepstakes, and that all she needs to claim her long-dreamed-of reward is a quick deposit.
Even in the middle of her interview with Goldstein, she received a call from a man named “Jack”, telling her she had won over $3 million. She was told that all she had to do to claim it was to send in a deposit of $1,200.
“They make it sound real, and you are hoping that maybe you are the lucky one, so you send them whatever they want,” Raven said.
Raven, who is on a fixed income, says she estimates she has spent a total of around $40,000 on these claims, and has not received anything back.
One recent solicitation came to her in the form of an official-looking letter, alleged to be from Mega Millions. The letter claims that Kathy is the winner of a check for $2.5 million, as well as a brand-new 2015 Mercedes Benz, and a bonus of $50,000 in cash.READ MORE: LA City Council Votes to Suspend Mark Ridley-Thomas Following Corruption Charges
The letter even contained a picture of a cashier’s check in her name. She’s told all she needs to do is pay the processing and insurance fees, totaling $399.
Russ Lopez, spokesman for the California Lottery, says “This is definitely a scam.”
“Crooks reproduce company logos to make their scam seem more believable. This is one of the first times we’ve actually seen them use a fake check from an existing bank.”
While many people would look at these solicitations and throw them away as a scam without a second thought, LAPD detectives who work with elderly abuse say they see this type of scam frequently.
LAPD Detective Carmine Sasso says that, once the crooks hook their victim, they keep calling.
“We’re seeing an increase in crimes against the elderly,” Det. Sasso said. “If they think they have an easy target that they can really sink their teeth into, they’re going to keep doing that. THey’re going to keep coming after a person, like a shark.”
Scammers such as the ones using the real Mega Millions are difficult to catch up with. Sasso explains that they are usually calling from outside the country.MORE NEWS: Problems At The Port: Recycler Ordered To Stop Polluting Area
Lottery officials wish to inform participants that they never ask for any fees upon winning a prize, and neither do most legitimate sweepstakes.