An elderly San Jose couple has received a portion of money they recently lost in a Canadian telemarketing sweepstakes scam, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The couple, who are in their 80s, were duped by a man posing as an attorney informing them they had won a multi-million dollar Canadian sweepstakes. They were told that to claim the prize, they had to pay the Canadian “luxury” tax on the sweepstakes winnings. The couple mailed multiple cashiers checks and cash packages to various Canadian addresses. On Monday, they received a $7,000 check from ICE and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The cash came from a parcel that was intercepted on its way to a Canadian postal box by Canadian authorities assigned to Project Center of Operations Linked to Telemarketing, a bi-national effort involving numerous agencies.A special agent in charge at ICE’s office of investigations in San Francisco said although the couple was fortunate that investigators found some of the money they lost, most of their life savings will never be accounted for.”While ICE and its enforcement partners are doing everything possible to stop this kind of fraud, the first line of defense is for people to be suspicious of anyone who calls and asks them to send money,” the special agent, Mark Wollman, said.Canadian authorities are continuing to investigate the case.Authorities advise residents to beware of callers posing as customs agents who notify residents they have won the Canadian lottery and must send a processing fee or customs duty to collect their prize. Sometimes the fraudulent telemarketers will represent themselves as attorneys, government officials, police officers, accountants or lottery company officials, according to ICE.Before sending money to telemarketers, ICE urges residents to call PHONEBUSTERS, Canada’s anti-fraud call center at (888) 495-8501.
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