|As reported by the Globe and Mail: “The post-Sept. 11 security crackdown has become the perfect cover for a new wave of telemarketing scams in which Canadian callers dupe Americans into paying customs fees on bogus sweepstakes winnings 'held up at the border.' |
“The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Canadian police forces have filed charges against 77 companies and individuals in Ontario and British Columbia in recent months in a growing plague of so-called `lucky day’ cross-border lottery and sweepstakes scams.
“`Cross-border telemarketing fraud is a serious problem, and it appears to be growing,’ said Timothy Muris, chairman of the trade commission responsible for consumer protection in the United States.
“…Compounding the problem is the widespread perception that U.S. justice is generally tougher on those who get caught, Mr. Harwood said. The ease of transferring money across the border facilitates the fraudulent transactions, he said.
“…The schemes vary, but callers typically lure elderly U.S. victims into paying customs charges, taxes or currency conversion fees to collect phony lottery or sweepstakes winnings. In some cases, callers pose as U.S. or Canadian customs officials and cite the recent security clampdown as a pretext for withholding the victim's winnings at the border, a U.S. official said.
“…In May, a 93-year-old Wisconsin woman lost $90,000 (U.S.) trying to collect a non-existent $2-million lottery prize supposedly held up at the border. She is among more than 300 known victims in that state alone.
“Since the end of 2001, the commission has obtained default judgments totalling $18.8-million, and $6-million in assets and funds have been frozen in Canada.”