A Seal Beach resident was defrauded out of approximately $140,000 after falling victim to a winning lottery scam.
On Friday, April 23, 2021, the Seal Beach Police Department responded to the call of theft by false pretenses. The elderly victim told the investigating officers that in August of 2020, he received a letter postmarked from Portugal which informed him that he had won the lottery in Spain. The letter contained logos and images similar to the graphics used by the California Lottery. In order for the victim to claim his “winnings,” the victim would have to pay “upfront tax money.”
The victim initially sent money to the suspect via the United States Postal Service. However, the suspects continued to demand additional payment from the victim in order to secure the lottery winnings. Over the next several months, the victim sent cashier’s checks to multiple individuals both in the United States and in Portugal.
After sending approximately $140,000 and not receiving any money in return, the victim discovered that he had been the victim of a scam. The Seal Beach Police Department is currently investigating this incident and is working with both the FBI and international officials in an attempt to identify the persons responsible for this scam.
“It is terribly sad that people will target the elderly in order to defraud them out of their savings,” said Seal Beach Chief of Police Philip L. Gonshak. “What makes matters worse is that because these suspects are located internationally, it will be extremely difficult for law enforcement to identify the persons responsible. The best way to stop these types of scams is to build awareness and prevent them before they occur. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. With that, please be mindful and check in with your seniors frequently to ensure they are not falling victim to financial crimes.”
For ways to protect yourself from scams such as this, please visit https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety.
This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Detective Jon Ainley at (562) 799-4100 ext. 1113 or [email protected].