Police have issued a fraud alert after an 87-year-old Oakville woman was cheated out of more than $20,000.
Halton police say the woman, who lives alone, had taken out bank drafts and couriered money to a Quebec address believing she had won $5 million in a lottery.
Had police not become involved, they say the woman would have sent at least $50,000.
"It's an extremely sad situation because it appears this woman has sent money to this address at least four times," Halton Sergeant Val Hay said. "Even though our investigators have spoken to her at length, she still believes she's won some money. It's quite sad."
Police became aware of the scam yesterday after a friend contacted authorities after failing to convince the woman not to send a bank draft for $11,000 to the address on Wednesday night.
"The money was sent by courier.... It was her fourth payment to this company," Hay said. "She has told us she sent at least four different sums of money. Before this, she sent at least $7,000.
"She doesn't remember how much she has sent or any records about it. But it's definitely over $20,000."
Police in Quebec are now investigating the caller, identified only as a man working out of his residence. The caller gave a name to the woman, but police aren't sure if it was his real name.
Hay said police tried to intercept the payment before it reached its destination, but the courier company had already delivered it.
"When this lady was first contacted she was told she had won $1.2 million but had to send some money to claim the prize," Hay said. "It seems each time the man called her the prize money went up and she had to send more money.
"To secure the release of this $5 million prize, she was required to pay an up-front fee to the company."
Police said the caller strongly urged the woman to keep the prize information confidential.
On Wednesday, police said a friend overheard the woman on the phone, arranging to send $11,000 in order to claim the $5 million prize.
"The person on the phone indicated that the woman needed to pay $50,000 in income tax to claim this money," Hay said. "Her friend went with her to the bank and tried to talk her out of it, but he couldn't."