Tuesday March 12, 2013 | 12:36 PM

WASHINGTON – The international lottery scams targeting senior citizens in Maine and other states is getting attention from Congress and the national media this week.

On Wednesday, the Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on the Jamaica-based con artists who have stolen untold millions of dollars from elderly residents. Among the roughly 200 cases that Maine law enforcement officials know about, the average loss is $60,000 to $70,000, although many cases reach into the six figures.

CBS’ morning news program, “This Morning,” aired a segment on the scam Tuesday morning, available in the embedded clip above or here.

Dan Rather will devote an entire hour to the issue tonight on his program “Dan Rather Reports,” on AXS TV. At least one Maine victim is interviewed in the program. Below is a clip from that program, or click here to see additional details or clips.

The scammers, who are often trained telemarketers, are primarily targeting the elderly by convincing victims they won either a car or a cash prize but need an initial payment to cover taxes, fees, etc . . . The scammers befriend the victims all the while extorting more and more money. Some scammers harass and threaten seniors, calling them more than 50 times a day.

An article I wrote on the scams for the Maine Sunday Telegram is available by clicking here, and an earlier piece by my colleague David Hench is available here.

Among the Mainers expected to testify during tomorrow’s hearings are Kim Nichols of Hermon, whose father lost $85,000, and Chief Deputy William King of the York County Sheriff’s Office, who has led the investigations of the scam in Maine.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is led by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. The 2 p.m. hearing is expected to be webcast live at www.aging.senate.gov.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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