An elderly Ballarat man has been scammed into giving con artists more than $70,000 to buy shares in overseas lottery syndicates.
The man’s daughter discovered her father had been paying up to $4500 a month to scammers posing as the European Lottery Guild.
The 82-year-old believed — and still believes — he was legitimately purchasing shares in an overseas lottery syndicate, with a chance of winning $260 million.
His last payment was in April, with the bank reversing the payment after a query by his family.
The man, who has previously held senior management positions within the banking industry, still believes he is not a victim and even took out a reserve mortgage on his home to cover the credit cards used to pay the scammers.
“The way he justifies it, he says the Australian government don’t want him buying overseas lottery tickets because they won’t get the tax,” his daughter Sharon Douglas said.
“We’ve shown him everything from consumer affairs, but he still thinks it’s all ridgy-didge.”
Ms Douglas said the European Lottery Guild’s correspondence looked legitimate and had conned her father with supposed “winnings” and gifts.
“On his birthday, they even sent him some smoked salmon and a silver platter to present it on,” she said.
“The paperwork looks good, the website looks professional — but it’s all a scam.”
Ms Douglas said people needed to be warned about buying any overseas lottery tickets.
“People need to understand you just can’t do this,” she said.
Consumer Affairs Victoria director Claire Noone said the case sent a warning to Victorians to be suspicious of any offers in the post or advertisements claiming you can win a fortune in overseas lotteries.
“I would urge all Victorians caring for ageing parents to lookout for scams,” she said.
“Not everyone that comes to Consumer Affairs Victoria tells us how much they lost in a scam but this appears to be one of the largest losses from a lottery scam we have seen in recent history.”
Dr Noone said fighting scams was becoming increasingly difficult and it was unlikely the Ballarat man would have his money returned.
“Scammers are known to move quickly, provide false information to consumers and do everything they can to avoid being identified,” she said.
“Once people have sent money overseas it is extremely difficult to retrieve and the scammers difficult to identify, catch and prosecute. Information from consumers is vital in the fight against scammers.”
For information, call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.