‘It needs to be stopped’: Scammer tries to convince elderly man he won lottery

MEMPHIS, TENN. — If you don’t play, you can’t win.

Still, a scammer tried to convince an 89-year-old Memphis man that his family had won more than $1 million from Mega Millions.

“There would be no taxes on it,” laughed Lewis Pittman, who decided to play along with the scam three weeks ago. “I said, ‘I’m going to follow this for a while.’”

The scammer had asked Pittman’s family to buy a $499 gift card to secure their “win,” but that he would accept a check. Pittman suspected this was a scam, but said he sent along the check and canceled it to fool the scammer.

“I was just going to play along with it and see how far it would go,” he laughed. “It’s gone a pretty good ways.”

Unfortunately, he said the persistent scammer continued to demand thousands of dollars. The person on the other end of the line also emailed fraudulent tax documents and a phony letter with the Mega Millions logo.

“If these people are preying on seniors, that needs to be stopped,” the 89-year-old said.

Once the scammer became aggressive, Pittman decided to enlist the help of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.

“He started cussing us out!” said Daniel Irwin, a BBB spokesman. “He’s harassing us! We’re getting calls from him too.”

He reminds all Mid-South residents to be extremely careful with unsolicited phone calls.

“Anytime you start to be harassed by anyone who claims to be with a well-known organization or business, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re dealing with an impostor,” he said.

He encouraged all victims of scams to alert others of the dangers by filing a report with the BBB Scam Tracker.

“Just because you don’t fall for a scam doesn’t mean that someone else won’t,” he said.

BBB Tips to avoid a lottery or sweepstakes scam:

  • You have to play to win
  • Don’t send money or buy a gift card to claim your ‘prize’
  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls and emails
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or texts