POLICE are warning residents to be wary of phone calls announcing they have won a foreign lottery after a pensioner was scammed out of thousands of pounds.
The Fylde woman, aged 72, received a phone call from a man with an American accent, claiming to be from a US lottery organisation. He told her that she had won the second prize of £210,000, but over numerous phone calls he persuaded her that in order for the money to be transferred to her bank account she would need to pay various taxes.
The victim parted with over £7,000 before realising that she had been conned.
DC Tony McClements, of Lancashire Constabulary’s economic crime unit, said: “Cold-calling on the telephone is just one way that the fraudsters initiate contact – others will use mass-marketing tactics via the post.
“In essence they tempt the victim by telling them that they have won a large prize in a foreign lottery and that a variety of taxes or costs have to be paid first before they can receive their prize.
“Through a chain of transactions the money is transferred out of the UK and the chase to keep up with the funds is rapidly lost. It takes time to seek international assistance, but it takes just a matter of seconds to fire the money across the globe electronically.”
He added: “This type of scam is particularly deplorable as those who fall victim rapidly go from the elation of ‘winning’ to total despair when they realise they have been duped. It is deliberately targeted at the elderly and the vulnerable so we all have a part to play in watching over elderly relatives or those who need our support.
“Prevention is always better than cure, so I would advise people that it is extremely unlikely that somebody can win a prize anywhere if they haven’t paid to enter the competition. This applies to lotteries as well as mass marketing ploys in which you can ‘win’ a variety of prizes. Remember that if it looks too good to be true it probably is.”