RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A viewer called NBC12 wanting answers about a letter he received claiming he won thousands of dollars. We investigated and discovered the caller's suspicion was right on the money.
72-year-old Butch Hayes says a trip to the mailbox delivered the unexpected. It was a letter claiming he and his wife of 50 years had just won a quarter of million dollars.
Gray Hall: "Did she think actually, honey, we got some money here?"
Butch Hayes: "She thought we won, not me."
Hayes didn't fall for the scam. Along with the phony letter, came a fake check for nearly $5,000; supposedly a portion of the winnings. When his wife asked about what to do with it his answer was simple.
"She said 'What do I do with this check', I said 'Shred it', I said 'It's a scam.'" Hayes stated.
In order to get the rest of the money they were to call a number and pay nearly $3,000 in taxes on the jackpot via Western Union - a big red flag. Hayes alerted the Better Business Bureau and because the check originated from Canada, they told him to contact Phone Busters, a Canadian Anti-Fraud call center.
"He said if you want to win you got to play a legitimate lottery. He says don't play anything that comes through the mail," said Hayes.
Over the years Hayes has heard about deals that sound to good to be true. He hopes his story will prevent others from being duped.
"They don't need to go through this and there are going to be people that take it for what it is and they think it is real and they are going to go to the bank and they are going to loose some money," he said.
Hayes says he is not surprised by the lotto deception -- just disappointed that innocent people become victims.
"They are criminals, they are under handed, they don't know how to hold a regular job. If you work 40 years and retire, that is great but to do this is not the American way," Hayes commented.
There are different variations of this fake lottery going around so you should always be alert. If you receive one of these fake lotto offers you can report it to the BBB. The organization says remember, you will never win a lottery you never signed up for and if you do win a lottery, there shouldn't be up front fees before you receive the money.