Elderly couple lose $600,000 in lottery scam

After the couple had lost their money, they contacted police for help.
After the couple had lost their money, they contacted police for help. (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

York Regional Police announced on Tuesday that they have made an arrest in their investigation dubbed “No Lotto Love”, in which an elderly couple in their 80’s was defrauded of $600,000 over a three-year period.

A Brampton, Ont., woman was charged with fraud over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, laundering proceeds of crime, and conspiracy. She is expected to appear in court on June 23.

The couple started getting calls in 2013 and although they were cautious at first, the callers kept calling and became more aggressive and persistent with the couple, convincing them to send money in order to process their “lottery winnings.”

Once the couple had lost their money, they contacted police for help and the force’s fraud unit started investigating, which led to the arrest of the woman.

How common is lottery fraud in Canada?

Canadians lose millions of dollars each year to lottery scams. In 2015, over 700 Canadians fell for lotto scams and lost over $7 million.

Often these con artists send out about three million letters or emails at one sitting and expect to get around 100,000 responses, mostly from seniors. Losses can range anywhere from $20 to $250,000.

Daniel Williams with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre told CTV News, “The most dangerous follow-up is when they actually start to phone you. These will be skilled scammers: very manipulative, very persuasive people”.

Sadly, as in this case, these tactics work.

How can Canadians protect themselves?

There are fraud indicators that point to a “lottery win” being a swindle.

Some fraud indicators are:

  • The lottery game is unfamiliar or is in another country;
  • The person contacted never bought a ticket; and
  • The person contacted is asked to forward money or taxes in order to collect their prize.

As these types of scams often target the elderly, the government advises seniors to be extra vigilant when they get phone calls from people claiming they won the lottery and if there are fraud indicators not to respond or to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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