A Taghum woman who fell prey to a Jamaican lottery scam is out over $78,000 in a case RCMP got wind of when the fraudster asked them to look in on the victim.
Police say the woman received a phone call in late August telling her she had won $5.5 million in something called the Winners Circle International. She remembered entering a contest through a magazine subscription and thought that must have been it.
The caller told her she needed to submit $25,000 to obtain a “tax exemption” to process the winnings and deliver them to Canada.
Police say the caller was persistent and asked her to send money through various means, including Western Union, bank-to-bank transfers and mailing cash to individuals and banks in Jamaica.
The woman was told not to discuss her winnings or the tax exemption with anyone. After receiving the $25,000, the scam artist called back several times over the following months and convinced the woman to send more money.
The victim finally realized what was going on and cut off her dealings with them.
But they didn’t give up so easily: Staff Sgt. Dan Seibel says the crook had the chutzpah to phone local RCMP and say he was concerned about the woman’s well-being. When they went to check on her, she explained the caller was part of the phony lottery.
“That’s how desperate and bold they are to get money,” Seibel says. “We followed up with this individual and received no co-operation.”
Scam artists based in other countries make police investigations and prosecutions challenging, he adds. Although there is only a “slim” chance of charges being laid, police will follow it up as far as they can.
“I’d love to see an arrest made, but because we’re not sure who we’re dealing with, and there’s so much deceit and a whole fraudulent process, it’s going to be challenging,” Seibel says.
He’s not sure how the scam artists got the woman’s contact information, but imagines they call hundreds of people hoping to get lucky with a few. Seibel isn’t aware of any other local victims of this particular scam, but would like to hear from anyone else who has been approached.
He also urges people not to send money to secure supposed lottery winnings.
“Any phone solicitation of this nature where a lottery win is required to provide funding to obtain their winnings is a scam,” he says. “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is a fraud.
“These criminals are very convincing and are willing to go as far as setting up fake web sites and providing victims with pass codes in an effort to convince or affirm that they are legitimate.”
However, he says you should never give out personal or banking information over the phone or computer.
Victims tend to be retired, elderly, or alone, and scam artists often appeal to their emotions and religious beliefs. Police encourage you to warn elderly family and friends to prevent them from being victimized.
The victim in this case didn’t want to be identified.