(Phoenix, Ariz. – March 11, 2005) Attorney General Terry Goddard is warning Arizonans again about a Canadian Lottery scam. A Canadian lottery telemarketer contacted an 80-year old California resident last week, identifying himself as Chief Auditor Franklin Marshall from Consumer Protection at the Arizona Attorney General's Office in Tucson. He provided an old address for the office.
The telemarketer told the resident she won the Canadian lottery, but that she had to send $2,000 via Moneygram to an address in Montreal, Canada. The scammer told the woman that the Arizona Attorney General’s Office was involved to collect the $2,000 “gift tax” before her $110,000 winnings could be released. This is a scam! If residents are contacted by these telemarketers, they should hang up.
While Canada has national and provincial lotteries, consumers must purchase a ticket in order to win. The "Canadian Lottery" scam is a well-traveled scheme that is used to cheat consumers in the United States.
"Unfortunately, the victims of these scams are seniors in our communities," said Goddard. “The new twist on this scam is that the telemarketer is using the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to try to legitimize it.”
Another version of the scam has someone calling to say that you have won a cash prize and puts someone who claims to be a lawyer or a Canadian customs official on the phone to explain how you won. The person will further explain that all you have to do is send a cashier's check to pay for Canadian customs. The caller may tell you that if your banker asks why you need the money, say it is for personal business.
The callers can be relentless. They will come across as friendly, talking to consumers by their first name and asking for them to do the same. They may continue to call if they think there is any chance the person will send the money.
Here are some red flags to look for:
- Unsolicited calls asking if you would like to be in a "Lottery pool."
- Mail notifying you that you have already won a substantial sum of money.
- Any request for you to send cash to redeem your prize.
- The caller telling you that you must keep your winnings a secret to avoid tax consequences.