DENVER (CBS4) – A woman’s savings is safe now, but only after she contacted CBS4 about what she thought was a scam.

Rhonda Simpson told 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks she got a letter saying she won the lottery. It is illegal to run any type of sweepstakes or lottery through the mail.

“It’s been a tough year,” Simpson said.

In January last year Simpson’s husband of 15 years died from an unexpected massive stroke. When a check arrived in his name, it was as if someone knew how the money would help.

“Being a single parent, helping my daughter with her education,” Simpson said.

And helping her daughter pay for her upcoming wedding. But it didn’t take long for Simpson to notice the check’s address didn’t match the letter address or the return envelope marking with a postage mark from Canada.

“There’s something weird here,” she said.

The letter claimed Simpson’s late husband won the “Mega lottery,” but there’s no question it was a scam. The check states it’s from Cathay Bank in Los Angeles, and on Cathay Bank’s website it warns of current check scams originating from Canada.

“I’ve been an agent for 18 years and this is a continued fraud scheme that never stops,” U.S. Postal Inspector Pamela Durkee said.

On Durkee’s desk she has dozens of different types of those lotteries and sweepstakes. This past year the U.S. Postal Service has seized counterfeit checks totaling $132 million.

“They continue to prey on the elderly, prey on widowed people, or disabled people,” she said.

The are people criminals suspect are vulnerable, which is why Simpson contacted CBS4.

“I just want people to really pay attention to what they’re getting,” Simpson said.

If you do get one of them in the mail, ask yourself two questions – did you enter to win? And do you have to wire money? Never send money to get money. Go to the local post office and ask the employees there to send it to the Postal Inspection Service and they will investigate it.


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