Date: March 04, 2003 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Carrie Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 819-1856, Pager

Sheriff Warns Citizens about Canadian Telephone Scam

Southwest District General Crimes detectives are currently investigating a case of an unknown telephone solicitor who has so far conned a 72-year-old Bartow woman out of $4,800. 

The victim says she was first contacted by the suspect via telephone in July 2001, who told her that she had just won a Canadian sweepstakes worth $196,000.  In order to claim her prize, the caller said, she was to wire $1,000 to a specified location.  The victim wired the money but never received her prize.  The victim was contacted four more times, and in each instance, she wired more money.  She has not heard from the caller since and has no way to contact the caller.  The investigation is ongoing.

Sheriff Crow warns citizens to never wire or send money to someone you do not know.  And, if contacted via telephone claiming you've been the recipient of a prize, ask for the caller's name, the company they represent, a telephone number, address, and full details of the contest/sweepstakes.  Also ask how the caller got your personal information.  If any of the responses to your questions sound ill-gained or suspicious, hang up immediately and contact  the proper authorities. 

In cases such as this one, where a victim was defrauded of money, criminal charges of Scheming to Defraud will apply once the suspect is apprehended.  Likewise, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) investigates company fraud of this nature.  According to the BBB website, under "Tips For Consumers: Canadian Scams", the above case is not an isolated incident: 

  • "Canadian "telesharks" are also busy peddling fraudulent sweepstakes and prize offers to Americans. Fraudulent telemarketers are offering bogus prizes such as boats, diamond jewelry, or cash to victims who agree to purchase other items; prepay taxes, shipping and handling charges; or transfer fees to receive the prize. Don't fall for any prize offer, from anywhere, that requires up-front money, and never give out  a credit card or  checking account number to collect a prize or enter a sweepstakes. Reputable sweepstakes companies notify winners by mail or by courier and do not require a fee of any kind."

You can contact the BBB at website www.bbb.org or call the BBB of Central Florida (407) 621-3300 if you have concerns about a company that has contacted or defrauded you.

If you feel you may have been a victim in a case such as this, or if you have any information about this crime, please contact the Sheriff's Office at (863) 533-0344. 
 

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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