The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging took on the issue of the Jamaican Lottery scam Wednesday.
It's an issue that FOX 13 investigates exposed last month. The Tampa Bay area is a target with so many seniors living here. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) is Chairman of the Committee.
"Thank you to Channel 13 for what you are doing because you are performing a great public service," Senator Nelson said before the hearing. "You are elevating this rip-off so that people understand it is happening before their very eyes with a loved one who is elderly."
FOX 13 spoke with Sonia Ellis about her mother Mavis, who gave away $90,000. She testified before the panel and told senators how it took emergency legal to stop her mom.
"These ruthless people would tell my mother to expect calls between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and would say to her friends, ‘I have to get back, I'm expecting an important call,' "Ellis said. "The fraud really isolated my mother in this way, which is very common."
The Federal Trade Commission estimates the Jamaican lottery scam and others like it could be costing Americans $1 billion annually. Several members of law enforcement also addressed the panel.
Chief Deputy William King from York County in Maine said he has contacted the FBI, but the agency does not seem to have an interested in working these type of cases.
Senator Nelson says the fraud must stop.
"Many times, it's not just ripping off a person's personal piggy bank, but also Medicare, which is a rip off to the taxpayer," Nelson said.
Bay area becoming target for Jamaican lotto scam