An elderly widow spent her life savings and a trust fund of £100,000 sending increasing amounts of “administration fees” to fraudsters who told her, by letters and telephone calls, that she had won cash prizes in a lottery.
The extent of the frauds came to light after Vicki Westwood, 81, died four months ago and her son was going through her bank accounts at her house near Stourbridge, Worcestershire. Here he found that she was actually overdrawn by several thousand pounds, and also found thousands of letters sent over a six year period from scam companies telling her of her “instant win” and the fees she would need to send to claim it.
Like the Nigerian 419 advance fee fraud, which promises huge commissions for victim’s help in a money-laundering operation, the lottery scam relies on its victim’s desire for easy money to encourage them to part with up-front “administration fees” to get it. Advance fee fraudsters usually urge confidentially on their victims, so they don’t get warned off by others they tell about their “good fortune”. Names and details of those conned are also sold on to other fraudsters, for a share of the proceeds.