Lured by the promise of winning a fortune in a “deaf lottery,” an elderly, deaf Connecticut man sent scammers $51,000 in late February, the Hartford Courant reports.
Local police are working with the FBI and law enforcement in other states to collar the con artists behind what is now a nationwide scheme targeting the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Det. Sgt. Jeff Lampson of the Windsor Locks Police Department said that the scam has surfaced in at least four states and there are likely more victims who have not come forward. And Lampson acknowledged that making arrests will be a challenge, partly because the stolen money was converted into the hard-to-trace cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
The victims’ daughter, Terri Lebonitte, said her father and mother, both deaf, are devastated and embarrassed.
The email the victims received read in part: “I want to inform you that there is a new program called The National Deaf/Hard of Hearing Country Lottery Program. It is a new program to encourage the strengthening of Human Right and Poverty Reduction, as well as to help citizens maintain a good standard living, especially for pensioners and retirees. The Elderly.”
The victim, who lives on retirement income, was told he would have to pay a fee to cover taxes and fees before claiming his prize.