Beware Lottery Scam

A few weeks ago - Fred and Ola Jones received a post card in the mail informing them that they were eligible for guaranteed government pay-outs worth one-hundred million dollars!

"I could take care of my grand kids. My daughter. And give so much to the church," Fred pondered.

But there was one little catch.

To be considered for this windfall - Fred and Ola and - who live on a modest fixed income - had 14 days to send 10 bucks to a company called American Direct in Las Vegas.

Guaranteed government pay outs. Fred didn't think sending the money was a gamble.

"I had this to get a money order," said Fred. "You were thinking about doing it," asked FOX 19 Consumer Reporter Tom Sussi. "Yes."

Feeling it was just too good to be true - Ola told Fred to hold off.

"I said well call, Tom and tell him about it and see what he thinks about it," said Ola. And - as FOX 19 learned - American direct is a Tell, Tom consumer alert.

Sussi called the Attorney General's office in Nevada and they say American Direct is running this scam across the country. They say a man named Richard Panas is operating this con game out of South Carolina. The address in Las Vegas is only a post office box.

It's a scam investigators say could be hauling in millions.

"They were sending him between three and five thousand pieces of mail bi-weekly," said Robert Griffy of the Nevada AG's Office. "That can give you some idea. Each one of those ten dollars just how much money he could be making."

The state of Nevada has charged Panas with eight counts of deceptive trade practices. And it's likely more charges will be filed.

"I think they need to be stopped. Positively stopped because they're taking people's money," said Ola.

One helpful bit of information: Legitimate lotteries do not require you to pay in order to collect.