Crime Tracker: Attorney says Winklers were lured by scam

Both Mary and Matthew Winkler were suckered by the so-called Nigerian Money Scam according to attorney Steve Farese.

Farese says, "When people are in financial difficulties or living hand-to-mouth, they get what they believe is a windfall and they tend to believe it."

Here's how the scam works:

A letter arrives in your mailbox or email.

The writer says the recipient has been singled out to share in a multi-million dollar windfall!

Randy Hutchinson with the Better Business Bureau says, "Statistics have shown that three out of every thousand people who gets one of these falls for 'em and they lose an average of eleven thousand dollars to the scam."

The Winklers thought they were inheriting more than 17-grand according to Steve Farese.

Attorney Steve Farese comments, "People believe it everyday, that's why scams happen. That's how WorldCom happened."

The victim provides up-front fees for taxes, attorneys and transactions -- hoping the money touted in the letter is legit!

It's not!

Hutchinson continues, "It's organized crime, these are not little, teenage computer hackers sitting in their homes sending these things."

Randy Hutchinson with Mid-South Better Business Bureau sees it all the time.

The documents look real with official stamps, seals and logos.
The checks look genuine.
The victims -- from all walks of life.

Farese continues, "Some pretty sophisticated people get taken in by cons."
You can keep yourself from being scammed by trashing those offers the second they hit your mailbox...whether at home or online!

"If it's too good to be true, it is. Ignore any pleas from people purporting to be high government officials wanting to share tens of millions of dollars with you."

It's a warning attorneys say the Winklers missed.