This scam is once again targeting Southwest Florida seniors

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SOUTHWEST FLORIDA -

An old scam is making a comeback in Southwest Florida that's targeting vulnerable seniors over the phone.

Beth Schell with the Lee County Sheriff Office's fraud prevention unit calls it "The Sweepstakes Lottery Scam." In it, the scammer claims to be with organizations like Publisher's Clearing House and promises their victim big bucks only if they send over cash first.

“Oftentimes the victim doesn’t know they’re being victimized," Schell said.

Schell said scammers are targeting the elderly because they're vulnerable, and that she hears of cases like this often.

“They know they’re lonely. They know they’re trusting of people. These scammers are willing to talk for as long as it takes and as often as it takes to be able to kind of groom them in," she said.

This exact scenario has been happening to one Cape Coral senior for at least four months. Her neighbor said she checks on the 87-year-old daily to make sure she doesn't fall victim to the scheme.

“She has 25 messages on her phone today. They tell her that she needs to send them money to get her prize," the victim's neighbor, Lori Johns said.

In this specific case, the scammers are using Jamaican extensions to dial their victim making it difficult for law enforcement to track the caller.

Johns said the scammers have gotten so desperate in the past that they sent over a taxi to her neighbor's house so it could take her to the bank to withdraw money.

“It makes my heart burn, because I know there are many people in this community that don’t have somebody," she said.

Experts recommend if you or someone you know finds themselves in a similar situation, the best defense is to report it and cut all communication with the scammer.


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