ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- A local woman thought her dreams had come true winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in sweepstakes prize money. But instead, a Stewartville senior citizen fell victim to a scam-- and forked over her retirement in the process.
$162,000 dollars is the total amount the woman lost while paying what she thought were state taxes on her supposed $750,000 dollar winnings-- winnings she never received.
Sgt. Tom Claymon of the Olmsted County Sheriff's office says the woman came to them after making months of payments and never receiving anything back.
She told deputies that in October of last year she recieved a phone call saying she was the winner of a sweepstakes worth three-quarters of a million dollars, and that in order for her to collect her money, she would need to pay her taxes up front.
The scam started with a series of smaller payments. The woman kept in contact with the scammers, who told her where to send the money-- to locations in both Florida and Costa Rica.
After she made her last payment-- and never received the winning money-- the scam became apparent.
Authorities say there are some tips to keep in mind to avoid being scammed: First, authorities say there's typically no such thing as random sweepstakes.
If you are contacted by a sweepstakes, however, officials say to make sure you do your research to make certain the sweepstakes is legitimate.
Officials also say you should never wire money in these situations.
They also recommend that you include your name on a do not call list for telemarketers.
Finally, officials say, the basic rule of thumb in these cases is, if it sounds too good to be true-- it probably is.
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