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Florida residents lose more than $100,000 of their life savings in sweepstakes scam

Relatives had no idea parents fell for scam
Posted: 6:45 PM, Jul 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-19 08:45:30Z

At 80, Betty Braddom lives independently. She cooks, cleans and pays her bills. Her daughter, Debby Lynch, says she never thought her mom could be conned out of a large chunk of her life savings.

The woman who pinched pennies all her adult life spent $40,000 this past year chasing a sweepstakes jackpot that doesn’t exist.

In May, Debby Lynch found her mom attempting to mail an envelope stuffed with $2,500 in money orders. The envelope was addressed to Michael Richey, who Braddon was told was a federal agent facilitating the sweepstakes.

We caught up with the 68-year-old in Margate, Florida. We found he too lost a large chunk of his life savings chasing the same jackpot.

Michael Richey's paperwork indicates he wired thousands of dollars of his savings and money orders from others to Costa Rica to pay the fees on a million dollar sweepstakes prize. It all started with a notification letter indicating a law enforcement agent was overseeing the distribution of funds.

Even after losing $70,000 in three sweepstakes cons over the last several years, Richey refuses to recognize what everyone else can plainly see: There is no jackpot.

Sean Cadigan is the general magistrate who decides probate and guardianship cases involving seniors in Tampa. He often sees a connection between aging and a decline in the ability to make sound financial decisions.

In many cases, including Braddom’s, victims hide the withdrawals from even their closest family members.

Here's how to protect your aging loved one.

  • Have conversations about this type of fraud
     
  • Ask about viewing-only bank account access
     
  • Report abuse to the state hotline 800-96-ABUSE