LAUDERHILL – (CBS4) – The scam is decades old. But it consistently victimizes new people. 

In a span of six months, Broward Sheriff’s deputies say scammers preyed on three elderly people in the Tamarac area using a well-worn but effective lotto scam. 

A former police officer, who tracks the people perpetrating the scam, said he’s seen 30 cases in the past 8 months in South Florida. 

One victim lost $17,000 — his entire life savings. Another victim lost $9,000. 

Louis Fortin lost $2,300 along with a bit of his pride. 

“I have no more money left,” Fortin told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. 

Fortin, 78, said he was walking in Lauderhill on February 22, when he stopped in a shoe store. Fortin said a man approached him and asked if Fortin and another man would help him cash a winning lottery ticket for $350,000. In return, the men would be paid. 

“If both of you help me both of you will get $50-thousand dollars,” he recalled the man saying. 

The man with the ticket said he didn’t have proper identification to cash it. He asked Fortin and the other man to put up money as collateral. 

Fortin checked out the ticket. He said the man called a supposed lottery official to verify the winning number. 

He agreed the help. 

The man drove Fortin to two banks where he withdrew money. 

The men gave him the ticket in exchange for the cash. They asked Fortin to run an errand for them at a grocery store. When Fortin walked out of the store, the men were gone. 

He soon realized he had been duped. 

“They do what they want to do,” he said. “It’s terrible.” 

Fortin’s daughter, Nadine Barreau, said her father feels embarrassed. 

“(The scammers) are taking advantage of people that are vulnerable,” Barreau said. “(My dad) feels bad about trusting people that he shouldn’t have trusted and of course now he doesn’t have the money.” 

Robert Taylor is a former Miami Beach police officer who spent 10 years tracking groups of criminals carrying out lotto scams and other crimes. He said many of the scammers belong to groups emanating from South America. He created the South American Theft Group Intelligence Network, or SATGIN, to provide a database on the crimes that can be viewed by law enforcement officers from the United States and Canada.

He said many seniors are losing their savings to the scam. 

“As an elderly person you should be suspicious of everybody coming to you with something that’s too good to be true,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the scammers operate from Florida to California and some groups consist of as many as 100 members. 

He has fliers from police agencies across the country on the wall of his office, listing persons of interest or suspects in these crimes. 

The scammers are well-trained with skills passed from generation to generation, Taylor said. He said the scammers approach the elderly because seniors are often trusting. Taylor said the thieves are good at what they do.

“They’re very convincing,” Taylor said. “They’re very nice looking people. They get very comfortable with their victims very quickly. They talk in such a manner that the elderly person feels very sorry for them.”

 Taylor said the thieves are hard to track because the move frequently and rarely leave behind physical evidence. 

Fortin said the man who approached him was very convincing. Convincing enough for Fortin to hand over $2,300.

 The victims and Robert Taylor hope that publicizing the crimes will prevent others from being victimized.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (7)
  1. Carmen Arza says:

    At the present time somebody from Jamaica wrote me a letter saying I won a 2.5 Million Dollars in a lotto. The next day the man startet calling me at my home every day four times a day. I contacted the Federal Commision in Wshington DC. they only told me that dont anwser the phone. But they are calling me from Jamaica , Las Vegass NV.. Asking me that to collect the money I have to send a Moneygram from Wal mart store for $800.00to an address in Syracues US.I am 83 years old but not stupit

  2. hollen says:

    Carman, the same thing happen to us. We played it in a different way, first we lead them on by telling them what they wanted to hear. My wife & I had a lot of fun playing games with these thieves & scamers. We would take turns having long conversions with them telling everything from A-Z, how we went to the bank to get the cash to send them, different storys why it didn’t happen, promising the thieves everything and doing nothing but lieing through our teeth. This went on for weeks until the scamers realized they were being scamed. My wife & I have a lot of time on our hands, we thought by taking up their time might help save someone else from being scamed. Just because we are (69) young we have fun! So all my brothers & sister out there; we are not Stupid we are in our golden years having FUN with a little sex every now and then.

  3. s walton says:

    These old people deserve what they have gotten. In the first place, what they see is that easy money the scammers are offering. The problem here is that they shouldn’t be victimized but they shouldn’t be greedy!!!

  4. Ray says:

    Advice for everyone; It’s easy to keep from being scammed. Just wait for the magic words (give me money) then you disappear!

  5. John Curtis says:

    I received a call today saying I won a lottery. The caller says his name is Michael White. I just got off the phone with him not 10 miinutes ago!

    He claims I won 2.5 million dollars, and that they want to deliver it to me today, but that upon receipt of the “check”, I have to fork over $350.00 to them which is to cover 1% of the taxes up front. The other 99% the “company” paid already on my behalf.

    This guy was very insistent. He kept calling me back over and over again. I would hang up. I told him I dont have $350.00.

    I hope someone investigates this guy!

  6. John Curtis says:

    Oddly enough, I contacted the FBI office in Miami, and told them of this incident. Being I had a name and a phone number of the person attempting to scam me (and most likely many others), I assumed they’d be interested in at least taking the man’s name and phone number. Nope, they didnt seem to care. They simply told me I did the right thing by hanging up, etc.,

    I realize they probably get a lot of calls on these issues. But how many callers also have the name and phone number of the perpetrator, and are contacting the authorites within 15-20 minutes of the incident?

    I just get the impression the authorities really could care less.

  7. Lori says:

    This is a first for us! My husband just got a call from Mr. White. Caller id showed the call was from Jamaica 876-588-5897. Mr. White told my husband that he won a Mercedes Benz, a check for $2 million, and $500,000 cash and he wanted to deliver it to us tomorrow. We suggested a public place but he wanted to deliver it to our home and he would call a radio station so the delivery would be public. All we need is two forms of i.d. and to be ready at 3:30pm tomorrow and all will be delivered to us. They want us to be dressed for the occasion, and allow their armed guards to escourt us to our bank.

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