A group of Canadians have honed in on Portales residents in an attempt to dupe them out of their cash with promises they’ve won the Canadian lottery.
Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said seven Portales residents have complained in the past month they’ve received phone calls from Canadians asking them to send between $1,000 and $3,000 to pay off taxes for their prizes.
The Canadians then promise to send hundreds of thousands of dollars as a reward.
On Monday, Berry said he received two complaints and one woman was seriously considering sending money to Canada.
“It’s just a scam and the basic rule is this: Anytime you win a prize you never have to pay for it,” Berry said.
Berry said he will contact law enforcement agencies in Canada with any tips he’s received from Portales residents.
He said a similar scam occurred a few years ago, and a Portales woman lost thousands of dollars as a result.
Officials with the New Mexico Attorney General’s office say the Canadian scam is common, as is another scam commonly know as the Nigerian scam.
“If somebody says you’ve won a lottery, the first thing you should ask yourself is did you enter — and if you didn’t hang up,” said Sam Thompson, a public information officer for the AG’s office. “A legitimate lottery will never make you pay to collect your winnings.”
The Nigerian scam, according to 9th Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter, involves a letter typically sent via fax or e-mail asking for a person’s bank account number to deposit hundreds of millions of dollars.
The sender claims to be from Nigeria and excessively rich, but can’t deposit money into their own account because they’re in hiding. They typically promise to give a portion of their reserve if the person relinquishes their bank account number. Once relinquished, the account is drained, Carter said.
Carter said he receives about two scam letters a week people in Clovis have received via fax or e-mail. He advises people contact the local law enforcement agency if they’ve been contacted by such scam artists.
“I think they target one community, and then they wait, and if they get a few people who respond then they move on … close down shop so they can’t be tracked,” Carter said.
Thompson suggests people receiving scam-related e-mails to forward the copy to uce.ftc.gov, a reporting agency for scams. People who receive calls from Canadian scam artists should report the call to Canadian Phone Busters at 1-888-495-8501.