Victim left with nothing after lottery scammers strike

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A disabled Omaha woman thought her prayers had been answered when she was told she won lottery money, but instead, she's been losing money.

Carol is restricted to a wheelchair, and her hope soared when she was promised lottery winnings.

"I thought my ship had come in. I thought I could get off assistance. i thought I could pay my back rent," she said.

In order to collect more than $1 million in monthly payments, Carol was told she'd have to spend her own money on taxes and fees.

"Close to $4,000 at least," the victim said about the amount she'd lost.

The Better Business Bureau recently conducted a lottery scam investigation.

"The tip off to the ripoff is you never ever, under any circumstances, have to pay in order to collect a legitimate prize," Jim Hegarty with the BBB said.

Thomas is Carol's family. The bank repossessed his 2012 Versa because of the lie. He had used several car payments on fees to collect the winnings.

"Like, yeah, I'll have the car paid off. It'll be great. All of a sudden... boom. Nothing," Thomas said.

The lottery calls came from the area code 876.

"We learned almost all of this is being perpetrated out of Jamaica," Hegarty said.

The scammers kept calling, wanting more fees.

"We finally stopped. I said, 'Look. I've lost everything I have. I can't hock no more,'" Carol said.

Financially drained by lottery scammers, Carol and Thomas want to warn others not to let the promise of money cloud judgment.

In one year alone, the BBB received 150,000 complaints on lottery scams nationwide. Enough people fell for the scams that losses totaled $120 million.

Most victims are senior citizens.