EUGENE, Ore. - David and Carolyn Follingstad lost $57,820 to scam artists.
Their ordeal began as opportunity in late June, when a woman called claiming to be from a New York law firm.
She told the retired couple they had won a sweepstakes and were entitled to $1.5 million.
Over the next month, the Follingstads spoke with several individuals related to the ploy, all claiming to be associated with legitimate companies and organizations.
"They told me about anti-terrorist laws and made it sound just like what I'd been reading about in the paper," David Follingstad said.
They were told they needed to pay the FDIC, as well as taxes to the IRS, in order to claim the winnings.
David Follingstad began to wire cash to a name in Sri Lanka in the beginning of July, via Western Union and Walmart.
As requested, he never wired more than $5,000 at a time.
By August, he had made more than a dozen trips, wiring $57,820 to the scammer, even taking cash advances on credit cards.
"David was a teacher and I was a social worker. We never had money. This was all the inheritance I got from my father. I was just devastated when I realized I had squandered his money," Carolyn Follingstad said.
Eugene Police Detective Steven Williams said the problem is prevalent, and people need to be wary.
"You don't get something for nothing and you don't win prizes for contests you never entered. There's nobody that is going to send you something if you send them lots of money," Williams said.
The Follingstads had wished to set up a trust to send their five grandchildren to college.
Now, however, they are focused on paying off credit card bills that are quickly accumulating interest.
- Oregon Scam Alert Network
- Oregon Attorney General Consumer Hotline, 1-877-877-9392