A new twist to a scam involving the Canadian lottery has cost a 77-year-old Fresno man $2,300, Fresno police reported Wednesday.
David Case, a detective assigned to the department's elder abuse unit, said the victim received a letter from the International Lottery Sweepstakes of Canada, accompanied with a check for $2,450, notifying him that he had won $100,000 in the Canadian lottery.
To collect his winnings, however, the victim was instructed to deposit the check and then send $2,300 (to cover Canadian taxes) by Western Union to a certain Canadian address.
On Dec. 17, nine days after the victim had cashed the check and wired the $2,300 to Canada, his bank told him that the $2,450 check had bounced.
The next day, the victim received a telephone call from a person who said he was a lottery official and requested an additional $1,600.
By then, Case said, the victim had realized he was the target of a scam and did not send more money.
While the Canadian lottery does exist, Case said winners have to claim their prize in person and that there are other methods in place for paying the taxes.
For years, hundreds of Americans, usually the elderly, have been swindled of their money in such scams.
In the new twist, however, the victim receives a bad check upfront to cash and is then instructed to pay the taxes.
Case said his office gets about 12 complaints each year involving the scam.
The cases are referred to a joint task force, called PhoneBusters, comprising several law enforcement agencies including the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
What To Do
People who believe they might be the target of a scam can call their local law enforcement agency. In Fresno, call police detective David Case's elder abuse unit at (559) 228-2764 or (559) 228-2765.