TORONTO â€” Police say an 85-year-old Toronto woman lost about $600,000 in a so-called “lottery sweepstake scam,” with some of the money coming from the sale of her $2.6-million dollar home.
The woman â€” who has diminished mental capacity â€” was told she had won a substantial amount of money and was only required to pay the taxes and other “recovery costs,” Toronto police said Wednesday.
Det. Alan Spratt said police first became aware that the woman was sending money to scammers in 2014 and believed that she had stopped. But they received an anonymous tip last month that she was still sending money.
“It looks like she sold the home to get money to send,” Spratt said, noting that they believe she’d sent some money before and some after the sale of the home.
Investigators allege the scammer disbursed approximately $600,000 of her savings to accounts in Ontario and across the world before the woman’s friends became aware of the situation.
Spratt said they’ve recovered more than $400,000 â€” approximately $20,000 worth of cellphones that she had been instructed to purchase, and about $380,000 in several bank accounts.
He said the scammers were laundering the money through other victims.
“Our victim was asked to send money others … in Ottawa and Peterborough,” who were instructed to keep some of the money and pass on the rest, he said.
“We haven’t identified any suspects yet,” Spratt said, “We do believe that the suspects are operating this from outside of Canada.”
The Canadian Press