Police recover $380,000 taken from elderly woman in lotto scam
A police cruiser is seen in this undated file photo.
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 8, 2017 3:17PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:00PM EST
Police say that they have been able to recover about $380,000 belonging to an elderly woman who fell victim to a lottery sweepstakes scam.
Police say the 85-year-old victim, who has a diminished mental capacity, was initially contacted over the telephone by someone purporting to represent a lottery sweepstakes company sometime in 2014. The woman was told that she had won a substantial amount of money but had to pay taxes and other recovery costs in order to claim the prize.
The woman sent some money to the suspects but she stopped after officers became aware of the fraud, police said. However, police said she resumed sending money after a period of time. Investigators then became aware of the additional transfers after receiving an anonymous tip last month.
“It looks like she sold the home to get money to send," Det. Alan Spratt told The Canadian Press.
According to police, the woman sent a total $600,000 to various accounts provided by the fraudsters over the years.
Police say that officer from the Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes division were recently able to pinpoint where the woman had sent the funds and seized about $380,000 with the cooperation of the Office of the Public Trustee, the Peterborough Police Service and a number of financial institutions.
Police say they also recovered approximately $20,000 worth of cellphones which the victim had been instructed to purchase as part of her payment.
Police have not announced any charges in connection with the fraud at this point.
"We haven't identified any suspects yet," Det. Alan Spratt told The Canadian Press. "We do believe that the suspects are operating this from outside of Canada."
Police said they believe the suspects were laundering money through unwitting victims in Ottawa and Peterborough. The victims were instructed to keep some of the money and transfer the rest to the fraudsters behind the scam.
With files from The Canadian Press