An eastern Iowa couple provides a sad example of how elderly Iowans can get lured in by hopes of winning millions in national sweepstakes contests. David Linquist’s mom was the past president of the state P-T-A. His father had owned the oldest furniture company in Iowa. But the parents he describes as smart still got hooked by sweepstakes companies. He realized how serious a problem it had become during a visit to their Keokuk home. He couldn’t find a place to sit because of boxes of stuff his parents had sitting around that they’d purchased from sweepstakes companies.Linquist found in 1998 alone his parents spent 47-percent of their social security income on the contests. His parents became so obsessed with winning, they wouldn’t leave home in fear of missing a potential prize.Linquist wrote to Iowa’s Attorney General for help. His parent’s case provided some of the information that helped the A-G win a settlement against American Family Publishers. Linquist’s mother died in March. He says the letters to his father have slowed, but not his father’s hope of winning.Linquist’s parents were in their 80’s when they got hooked on the sweepstakes. The Attorney General’s office says the sweepstakes often prey on the elderly because they’re more likely to believe letters claiming they can win.
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