An elderly woman in Stewartville, Minn., duped by a common scam, lost $162,000 – her life savings, KAAL TV reports.
The scammers called the 80-year-old in October 2012 and told her she had won a $750,000 sweepstakes and that she could collect the winnings when she paid the $162,000 in taxes, the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office said.
The woman paid the sum with funds in her retirement accounts, sending the money through FedEx, KAAL reports.
The lottery ruse is one of the top 10 scams used to target seniors, according to the National Council on Aging.
Law enforcement officials urge families to protect their aging loved ones from con artists who prey on seniors. The FBI notes that senior citizens are attractive targets because they are more likely to have retirement money, own their home and have good credit.
Federal officials also note that con artists tend to exploit older Americans, who may be more trusting of strangers and find it hard to hang up on somebody.
Met Life recently did a study on protecting seniors from financial abuse, perhaps the first large-scale analysis of the issue.