A military veteran and his wife lost their life savings to a new lottery scam using the official San Diego County seal on letterhead, officials said Tuesday.
One retired San Diego couple, ages 83 and 79 years old, recently received several phone calls telling them they had won as much as $2.5 million.
The couple then got a faxed letter that appeared to come from county officials describing taxes necessary before the lottery winnings could be deposited into the Navy Credit Federal Union.
The couple gave their Social Security numbers, bank account information and sent $20,000 in bank transfers and telegrams to several individuals.
The thieves then used the information to clean out the couple’s bank account, stealing an additional $3,000 officials said.
San Diego County prosecutors learned of the theft when they were contacted by Navy attorneys at MCAS Miramar.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the letter appears to target seniors and veterans.
Since the San Diego couple alerted authorities, there have been two similar incidents reported. One occured in another California city and one happened in New Mexico.
“Anytime you will get a phone call promising you’ve won, just hang up because it’s not going to be the case,” said Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood.
“When they tell you on the phone ‘Don’t tell anybody, don’t even tell the bank, don’t tell the credit union,’ that’s a huge red flag,” he said.
He also called on financial institutions to do more to protect their customers from this and similar scams.
Using the government seal is a felony, officials said.
Victims of this scam or other possible financial elder abuse can contact the district attorney's staff at (619) 531-3245.