Lottery scam warning
CALLOUS conmen are tricking pensioners out of thousands of pounds in savings through a new global "lottery" scam, a leading detective has warned.An 86-year-old man from Suffolk was duped out of almost £20,000 by the fraud which police believe is operated by criminal syndicates from across the world.
CALLOUS conmen are tricking pensioners out of thousands of pounds in savings through a new global "lottery" scam, a leading detective has warned.
An 86-year-old man from Suffolk was duped out of almost £20,000 by the fraud which police believe is operated by criminal syndicates from across the world.
Detectives say the new scam is fast becoming a multi-million pound industry, and have issued a stark warning to prevent elderly victims being duped.
The fraudsters operate from overseas and target British pensioners by making a telephone call to inform them they have won hundreds of thousands of pounds in a foreign lottery.
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The victims are then told they need to pay tax and administration costs before the money can be released, and are asked to send off thousands of pounds to addresses in America, Australia, Canada and Europe.
Each time a victim has been contacted, the caller has had a strong foreign accent and has asked for amounts of up to £5,000 to be sent via a money gram, which can be obtained from post offices.
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Since February, Suffolk Police have been made aware of eight people who have been targeted by the fraudsters, but believe the number could be much higher, with many feeling too embarrassed to come forward.
An 86-year-old man from Ipswich has been the biggest victim in Suffolk so far, handing over a total of £19,300. On that occasion, the man was told he had won £5.5 billion dollars in the Australian Lottery. He was then fooled into sending money grams for huge amounts to addresses in Europe, America and all over the world.
Other pensioners in Sudbury, Newmarket and Beccles have also been victims.
Det Sgt Richard Crabtree from Suffolk's Force Intelligence Bureau said: "These criminals are very convincing and plausible and people are being taken in by this scam because it is a sophisticated and complicated web.
"In the last few years there has been an explosion of crimes where people are ready to exploit the vulnerable, but this scam is a new variation.
"They seem to be able to target elderly people living alone and also seem to be able to get their details, which is very worrying."
Suffolk police and other British forces are working with Interpol to try and bring the perpetrators to justice, but Mr Crabtree admitted the crime is very difficult to solve.
"To my knowledge nobody involved in this scam has ever been caught, it is very difficult to detect. Anyone who is approached and told they have won on a foreign lottery should be extremely cautious."
Anyone with any concerns about the new scam or believes they may have been approached by the fraudsters should telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500.