Nanaimo couple lost almost $400,000 in lotto scam

THE Nanaimo RCMP is investigating a scam in which a Nanaimo couple lost almost $400,000 in a Readers Digest Sweep Stakes Mega Millions lotto scam.

The scam started in early 2021 when the couple, who are both in their late 80’s, answered a phone call. The caller said he was working for Readers Digest and that he was calling to notify them that they had won $18.5 million, and a Mercedes-Benz. He told them that in order to receive their winnings, they must first pay a “few” administrative fees.

Several days later they received official looking documents in the mail from what appeared to be the Internal Revenue Service. The documents indicated they owed taxes on their winnings, and that they were directed to contact Mega Millions in order to arrange payment.

Every week the scammers faithfully called and directed them to make payments by cash, through money orders, in order to pay the outstanding taxes on the winnings, and to cover the storage fees of the Mercedes-Benz. Bank drafts were drawn and delivered by mail to various addresses. Throughout the year, the couple made cash payments of almost $400,000.

“The financial loss the couple experienced is significant and is certainly one of the largest we have seen in Nanaimo. It also goes to shows that if fraudsters believe they have convinced you of their legitimacy, they will not stop until essentially there is no more money to give or you figure out it is a scam,” said Constable Gary O’Brien.

To find out more about current frauds being perpetuated in your community and elsewhere check out the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre