A Vernon couple found out too late that instead of winning a U.S.-based lottery, they had been scammed.
Don and Delores Ferguson, pensioners who live in a small Vernon apartment, were informed via a phone call on July 20 from a man named Mike Peterson that they had won $2.5 million and a car through the Chase financial institution and the Michigan lottery.
“We didn’t really think anything of it but then a guy named David Blair started hounding us every hour. He even phoned at 6:30 in the morning two days in a row,” said an angry Delores.
“He said he was going to deliver the car and that if he didn’t get the money, we wouldn’t get the money and he’d lose his job.”
The Fergusons were told to send money through Western Union, starting with small increments of $50 at first, then up to $350 for the registration of the vehicle and to have it fully insured.
The last amount the couple sent the fraudulent callers was $1,350, which raised eyebrows at the couple’s bank. After they sent $2,487 total to try and collect on their supposed windfall, the Fergusons were informed by the bank that they had been scammed.
“It all seemed feasible,” said Don. “The way they kept phoning. By the time we found out it was a scam, we couldn’t put a stop on the money.”
The calls came from an 876 area code, which is from Jamaica.
The Fergusons made copies of 12 pieces of fax correspondence they received during the scam, and have alerted the RCMP and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
“It’s sad, and we could be putting out a warning about some kind of scam every day,” said Vernon RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk, who said scammers will prey upon people’s emotions, particularly seniors.