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Surrey man charged with bilking U.S. senior out of thousands of dollars

Police say there
Police say there's been an increase in the number of lottery scams in the Vancouver area.
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A 30-year-old Surrey man has been charged with fraud for allegedly taking part in a lottery scam targeting seniors.

A 76-year-old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania man received a call from a person claiming to be from the Publisher’s Clearing House. The senior had won a prize, but had to send $4,500 in cash to a Richmond address to cover taxes of the winnings.

The man sent the cash on Feb. 8, and was contacted again to send an additional $9,800, which he did.

He realized he may have been duped when no one showed up to give him his prize at a pre-arranged meeting place at the Pittsburgh airport.

The man placed a call to Publisher’s Clearing House and was told that he had been the victim of a scam. Five days later, on Feb. 14, the man received a final call asking for another $9,800 to be couriered to a residential address on Kingsway in Vancouver.

He called local police and an investigation was launched.

Surrey’s Richard Williams has been charged with theft over $5,000.

Police are also investigating other similar scams involving three other seniors in the U.S.

The charges are part of a larger operation in reaction to a spike in lottery scams in the Vancouver area.

There have been five reported cases involving losses in the tens of thousands of dollars already in 2012, as compared to just two at the same time in 2011.  But even more disturbing, the scams have been targeting vulnerable elderly citizens, in  many cases robbing them of their life savings.

Three people from Vancouver are charged in relation to those cases, including Nazifa Raza, 27, Shaheem M. Raza, 30, and Fareed M. Raza, 38.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Department’s Financial Crime Section at 604-717-2569 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Signs of the scam

Investigators have found common denominators in these types of crimes. There is always secrecy involved and callers demand cash, which is hard to trace. If you haven’t entered the lottery, you can’t win, and agencies like Publisher’s Clearing House don’t make phone calls, they come in person.

Most of the victims have health issues or are lonely and the perpetrators will not stop until the money is gone.

Some victims are too embarrassed to tell anyone. Here are some tips that a scam may have been committed against your loved one:

• Notepads and pieces of paper around the house with phone numbers and information;

• Receiving a lot of calls and there is secrecy surrounding them;

• A shortage of money and bills not being paid;

• An unusual or excessive amount of magazines (subscriptions) or items coming in the mail.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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