Nowadays criminals have become more inventive than ever before in their ways to defraud individuals of copious amounts of money. This is evident by the most recent scandalous scam to which an 81-year-old woman fell prey. Criminals told her she had won the lottery and needs to pay for taxes and insurance, eventually defrauding her of $250,000.
Elderly individuals are one of the demographics often targeted by scammers around the globe, due to their gullibility and often times their inability to research thoroughly the entire situation they find themselves in. According to recent estimations issued by the Better Business Bureau, some 500,000 individuals across North America have fallen prey to frauds involving alleged lottery winnings and sweepstakes schemes over the past few years. This is a concerning figure and the authorities never cease warning people to be careful when they are being asked for a large sum of money.
Criminals Claim to Be Bank of America
In this particular case, an elderly woman from Lethbridge, Alberta became the victim of a vicious scheme for deceiving people and bilking them out of their money. However, the time window over which she has been supplying the criminals with regular payments spans from March 2018 to only recently. Over this 10-month period, she has been the victim of the fraud without seeking any advice or confirmation that payments are in fact covering said taxes.
The elderly woman’s son found out about the scam only recently and was quick to alert the authorities that his mother had become a victim of this financial fraud. According to the information she gave the police, around March 2018 she received a letter from Bank of America saying she had won a lottery based in the United States. Due to the remoteness factor, she opted for contacting the criminals and making an attempt to claim her prize.
Once she reached them, they told her that the only way she could claim the $750,000 she is eligible for is if she first pays mandatory taxes. She was told that those are state and other taxes that will insure her lottery prize. So she proceeded to send the payments almost every week. The ensured her that she will collect the lottery prize once all taxes are covered.
Upcoming Tax Season Could See More Fraud Schemes
Many phone calls took place ever since last March, in which the criminals managed to be convincing enough and ensure her the bank drafts should continue. She gave them her personal banking information, which facilitated the process. What happened next took the entire scam to a whole new level, as the fraudsters told her that she was then speaking to representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency.
They told her that now she has to cover Canadian taxes for her winnings in Canadian dollars. At this point, the Lethbridge woman’s son found out about the scam and reported it to the local police. Perpetrators are often taking advantage of individuals such as the 81-year-old woman. Sergeant Paolo Magliocco stated that this is one of the most common types of crime not only in Canada but also on an international level, as they rely on their skills to convince and deceive their victims.
By the end of 2017, people across Canada and the United States have been defrauded of $117 million, but what should be taken into account is that there is always an element of shame when it comes to this type of frauds. In this sense, the actual amount of cash people have been bilked out of could be even higher than the reported one. Canada is on the verge of tax season which means that scammers will make sure they put in their best efforts to take advantage of vulnerable individuals.