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Lottery Schemes Tear Family Apart

CONSUMER REPORTS -- An elderly parent refuses to listen to warnings from family and instead is listening to the claims of con-men who tell her she is just about to cash in and win big money in a lottery.

Juan Hood and her 83-year-old mother are estranged because foreign lottery schemes have torn their family apart.

"We are looking at having to have her deemed unfit or incompetent and that is going to take an excruciating amount of money." Juan said.

Juan said her mom already entered various sweepstakes that arrived in the mail. Her mom always played, even when Juan was a child, but something changed when Juan's father died.

"I've seen a decline in her over the last several years." Juan said.

Juan's mother started getting calls telling her she won the lottery and she just needed to pay the taxes. She got another phone call saying she won a car and just had to pay the storage fee, so she sent the money, over and over again.

In fact, the post office she used noticed the frequent packages she was sending to various addresses, so the postmaster visited Juan's mother at home.

""As soon as we saw the information she was showing us, I knew then that it was a lot bigger than just, what we initially thought," Dwayne Davis the Postmaster said.

Davis tried to explain she was dealing with scheme artists.

"I said quit sending them your money. She said "no, I'm not. They are going to help me." In this case, she trusted the people that she had been talking on the phone more than she trusted us." Davis said.

So far, Juan's mother has lost more than $20,000 and put herself in debt with all of the international calls. However, she won't stop. Postal inspectors were forced to take drastic measures.

"She became so resistant to our talks or working on talking to her clergy or family that it came to the point, where, in order to protect her, we had to obtain a federal search warrant." US Postal Inspector Brad Mahs said.

The warrants were got get the money or money orders that they knew were going to go through her post office.

"I don't believe my mother will get help until she loses every single penny she's got and then I don't know she would." Juan Hood said.

Juan says it's important for children to have protections in place. Protections like power of attorney over their elderly parents' financial matters. Therefore, if something goes wrong the kids can keep their parents from losing their life savings.

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