Published: Jan 28, 2013 4:13 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A North Fort Myers resident thought she had won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. It took thousands of dollars and straight talk from neighbors to show her she had been scammed.

A man named "James Carter" had great news for 82-year-old Alma Costa, telling her that she had won millions of dollars and a luxury vehicle, but needed to send him money first. The funds would supposedly satisfy "government rules." Costa sent thousands of dollars in money orders and while telling her neighbors she was waiting for her millions, they said she had been scammed.

Postal inspectors say these scams are all too common with the elderly.

Costa is a survivor of five heart attacks and diabetes, and only lives off Social Security. It is unclear whether Costa will recover any of the money she lost.