ELLISVILLE, Mo. (KSDK) - In February, 5 On Your Side brought you the story of a west St. Louis County woman scammed out of her life savings.
Authorities are investigating the Jamaican lottery scam not only in our area, but across the country. 5 On Your Side's Mike Rush shares local efforts to stop the scammers, before they claim another victim.
Ellisville police officers Joey Nickles and Angela Walsh are on a mission to stop scams before they happen.
"There is no way we can sit here and tell you about all the different types of fraud out there," said Nickles. "It is endless."
"Our goal is to hopefully get out there, let people know what's going on, and hopefully to stop them from becoming a victim, a victim of thousands of dollars they won't ever see again," said Walsh.
The presentation they're sharing with seniors at Gambrill Gardens, was a result of a elderly woman's involvement in a lottery scam, that eventually cost her life savings.
5 on Your Side brought you Mary's story in February. Now these officers are using it to get their point across to seniors like Mary, who are often targeted by scammers. Ellisville officers investigated that original case.
"I was like oh, I cannot believe this happened to this poor lady," said Nickles. "She was incredibly sweet, she was very articulate and she was not the kind of person that I would have thought would be a victim of this kind of crime, because there was so much money involved."
Mary's family estimates she lost more than a $100,000. It's an eye opener for Ed and Geneva Martin who've received at least two bogus lottery letters in the past few weeks, with checks totaling about $9,000.
"I talked to my wife and my wife said, it's a scam!" said Ed. "So I just took the letter and the check to the banker and said would check this out, she checked it out and she called me back the next day and said this is a scam, and I said then throw away the letter, the check, everything."
"Nobody gives you something for nothing," said Geneva. "It' s the elderly now, that they're after, it really is the elderly now. They're the ones that have the big bucks."
"Geneva is wise beyond her years," said Ed.
While the Martins weren't fooled into handing over any money, officers want these people to feel comfortable calling police with any concerns.
"Let's not be embarrassed, because if we're embarrassed how are we supposed to know about it, so don't ever, ever, ever be afraid to let us knows, or ask a question," said Walsh.
Many lottery scams that originate overseas, include awkward or overly complicated language, ask you to pay for things like taxes and delivery charges, and most importantly they promise things that are just too good to be true.
"The biggest defense is your mind, just using some healthy logic and rational reasoning and thought and I know that a lot of time that's very difficult, because the bad guys are very, very sophisticated they understand human psychology and they exploit it, and it's very, very difficult combat it," said Nickles.
But these officers are doing their best to arm seniors with the information, before they become a victim.
"Hopefully at some point there won't be anyone left to scam," said Walsh.
The Ellisville Police Department is planning to hold a public seminar in the near future and you're invited to attend. For details you can call the department at 636-227-7777.