A Nanaimo woman was defrauded of thousands of dollars in a scam where fraudsters posed as officials from a lottery, according to Nanaimo RCMP.

The scam occurred in March, when a senior received numerous calls from a man who said his name was Dave Morin.

The senior was told she had a grand prize in a lottery and needed to provide payment for upfront taxes in order to claim her winnings, which included a grand prize of $750 million and a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.

Over the next three weeks, the victim was called and instructed on multiple occasions to purchase pre-paid gift cards or to send cash by mail.

The addresses she was told to send money to were spread across British Columbia and North America.

In total, the senior sent almost $16,000 in cash and another $10,600 in Vanilla pre-paid cards.

When the promised prize never arrived, the senior spoke with a family member who was able to convince her that she had been scammed. Nanaimo RCMP say the victim has changed her phone number and no longer uses a landline.

“Sadly, this happens more often that not, and in many cases the victim only realizes that they have been scammed when the prize never comes,” said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

Police say these scams can come in various forms, with victims contacted by email, social media, phone or regular mail. Occasionally, scammers have pretended to represent organizations such as Reader’s Digest or Publisher’s Clearing House.

Members of the public should protect themselves by hanging up on suspicious callers. Do not respond to suspicious communications.

Legitimate lotto companies will never require winners to pay taxes, and any lotto win requires the purchase of a ticket.

When in doubt, potential victims should consult friends or family members before making any decisions involving money.

Further information on scams and frauds is available at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

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