Black Canyon City residents fall to Canadian lottery scam

Posted: Updated:

BLACK CANYON CITY - The following is a release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office:

A new take on the Canadian Lottery Scam was reported recently to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. The media release issued on September 5th involved U.S. mail to entice potential victims into the scam. This new incident began with a phone call.

On September 12, 2008, a YCSO deputy responded to a reported fraud involving a 74-year-old Black Canyon City resident. The victim explained that earlier in the week, he received a call from " Frank White" who claimed to work for the U.S. Treasury Department. " White" told the victim he had won $2.4 million dollars in a Canadian Lottery Sweepstakes and the money was being transferred to the United States via U.S. Customs. In order to collect the money, the victim was asked to wire $600.00 to cover some of the fees and taxes. The victim went to a Wal Mart in Anthem, Arizona and wired the $600.00 to a Canadian account.

On September 12, 2008, he received another phone call from " White" requesting an additional $1500.00 to cover the remaining taxes. "White" also told the victim there were two armed guards waiting at Sky Harbor Airport with his money, but the $1500.00 dollars was necessary before the prize money would be released. The victim, not able to raise that much cash, negotiated the final fee to $500.00. The victim called his bank to discuss the situation and fortunately, a bank employee alerted him to the scam and convinced him not to send any more money.

The phone number "White" provided to the victim is assigned to a cell phone service in Canada. The cell phone number no longer receives calls or messages.

A majority of these scams target older folks, so the YCSO Crime Prevention Office is reminding family members to alert those older parents and relatives about these types of scams. Encourage open communication and whenever possible, monitor mail and telephone contacts that may be suspicious.

Bagdad Residents Receive Canadian Lottery Scam Letter

On September 2, 2008, a Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputy responded to a report of mail fraud in Bagdad. The resident provided a letter along with a check received in the mail from a company claiming she had won a large amount of money in a Canadian lottery. The check amount was written for $3985.00 and the "winner" is told that this amount was deducted from the larger winnings, usually quoted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is necessary to help cover taxes. In this case, the "winner" was asked to deposit the check and wire $3000.00 back to the company for taxes.

Another resident in Bagdad recently received the same letter and check. This resident contacted her bank and confirmed the account number on the check was valid and funds were available. She deposited the check, but because she was suspicious, she waited for the check to clear the originating bank before wiring any money. Sure enough, after three days, the check had been cancelled and the funds withdrawn.

In some cases reported around the country, the lottery check received is fraudulent and the scammer's intent is to have victims deposit the check, and wire money back to the "company" before the bank becomes aware of the fake check. In these cases, the account holder is responsible for the loss from the fraudulent check.

YCSO reminds anyone receiving these letters that this is a scam. As always, don't fall for promises of big winnings, beware of anyone pressuring you to make a snap decision and ignore offers to buy tickets for foreign lotteries. They are illegal, unless you personally travel to that country to purchase them. You should never pay up-front fees or taxes for unidentified investment opportunities or prize promotions. If you've actually won, you shouldn't have to pay anything up-front.

Foreign lotteries and investment schemes often target the elderly and others who have actively responded to sweepstakes promotions. Getting a victim's money back is extremely difficult and the loss can be avoided by simply ignoring these scam letters.

Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with information or questions at

(928) 771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov