'It devastates the victims': Hundreds of Canadians fall for lottery scams
Published Thursday, January 28, 2016 7:06PM EST
Hundreds of Canadians fall for lottery scams, losing millions of dollars each year.
Oshawa resident Ron Horner contacted CTV Toronto when he received a notice from Australia, saying he won $80 million in a Powerball lottery.
He was asked to send $15 to an overseas address, and told that his winnings would be released when the money was received.
Horner has never been to Australia, and hadn't purchased any lottery tickets, so he knew the letter was a scam.
"It's just stupid as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Although Horner didn't fall for it, hundreds of Canadians have been tricked in similar scams. Last year, more than 700 Canadians got caught up in lotto scams, and lost more than $7 million.
Daniel Williams, a supervisor at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, told CTV Toronto that most scammers send out up to three million letters or emails at a time.
The notifications are sent to people around the world, and they generally expect about 100,000 people to respond. Many of the victims are seniors, Williams said.
Many victims lose between $20 and $30, but some lose as much as $250,000, he said.
"It devastates the victims," Williams told CTV Toronto's Pat Foran.
In addition to the money lost to scams, those who respond are often put on a list, and flooded with more phone calls and letters.
"The most dangerous follow-up is when they actually start to phone you. These will be skilled scammers: very manipulative, very persuasive people," Williams said.
The best ways to identify a scam include that the lottery is in another country and the letter contains grammatical and spelling errors. Consumers should also be wary if they didn't buy a ticket, the organization is looking for banking information or there is a fee to collect the winnings.
"There's nobody out there just dishing out free money," Williams warned.