The Missoula County sheriff's department is seeking donations on behalf of a 74-year-old man who lost his life savings on the false promise of receiving millions of dollars and a Mercedes Benz in a sweepstakes scam.
The $75,000 loss has left Stuart Voigt living in an isolated log home in the mountains of western Montana with his two Labrador retrievers and his dachshund, no transportation, no refrigeration and just over $900 a month in Social Security income.
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The Missoula County sheriff's office learned of Voigt's plight from the owner of the company that repossessed his pickup truck on behalf of a Missoula bank last week.
On Wednesday, a deputy escorted media to the widower's residence in nearby Granite County to help get his story out.
"This is as guy who truly does need some help," said Capt. Bill Burt, who also brought nonperishable food and dog food to Voigt's residence.
After running through his savings to buy pre-paid cards and mailing cash to the scammers, Voigt took out a $20,000 loan using his pickup truck as collateral. He couldn't make the payments.
Voight has no refrigeration because he sold his solar panels, his solar-powered freezer, his propane fireplace and his range as the scammers continued to demand more fees before delivering his "prize."
"It was just something that he couldn't get himself out of," Burt said. "The deeper he got himself in, the more they dangled the carrot in front of him, and the more promises they made and said he was getting closer and closer, that this was going to happen."
Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson said he urged Voigt, unsuccessfully, not to succumb to the bogus Publisher's Clearing House scam.
Voigt, a retired contractor, now has his 10 acres and the log home he built 11 years ago on the market for $95,000 and hopes to move before the weather gets too cold.
The Missoula County sheriff's department is taking food donations for Voigt. Cash donations to help him purchase a vehicle can be made at any Missoula Federal Credit Union branch.