Denver man loses $2,000 in elaborate lottery scam

DENVER -- Larry Romero has spent a lot of time in recent weeks staring at his mailbox.

The 66-year old Denver man is waiting for money to arrive.

A few weeks ago, he received a piece of mail that looked like it was from Mega Millions. It was a game. Romero followed the instructions and mailed it back and was told he was a finalist to win.

He then mailed back another game, which was followed by a phone call to his answering machine.

A representatives claiming to be from Mega Millions told him he had won $1.5 million.

Romero couldn't believe his luck, and he shouldn't have. The money never arrived, so Romero called the Colorado Lottery and learned it was a scam.

Fuming, he called the scammers to give them a piece of his mind.

"So I called them back and said it's a scam," Romero said.

It's a call he never should have made. The scammers called him back, this time pretending to be from the Colorado Lottery. The number matched the number he'd called them at, so Romero was convinced.

He agreed to pay $2,000 up front for taxes to receive his check.

"I'm embarrassed and I feel like going to the tattoo parlor and tattooing 'Stupid' on my forehead. It makes you feel stupid to fall for something like this," he said.

Romero will likely never get that money back.

The Colorado Lottery said there are ways to protect yourself from scammers. First, if you question whether something is a scam, it advises people to visit one of its four state offices.

"We will never ask you to pay money to claim a prize," said Jennifer Churchill with the Colorado Lottery.

Churchill says you also must always visit a lottery office to claim a prize worth $600 or more.

However, for Romero, it's a lesson learned too late.

"I don't want other people to get messed up, because it's so believable," he said.

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