04/27/2012 03:10 EDT | Updated 06/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Vancouver Lottery Scam Results In Four People Facing Fraud Charges

VANCOUVER - Four people are facing charges in Vancouver over lottery scams in which elderly victims in the U.S. were told they'd won huge jackpots, but had to send thousands of dollars in fees and taxes in order to claim the prizes.

Police were alerted to one case by police in Hillsborough, Calif., who reported an 89-year-old woman was telephoned and told she'd won $7.5 million in an Australian lottery and was persuaded to wire $70,000 to a Vancouver account to collect the winnings.

The investigation led police to an accounting and tax consulting firm in Vancouver and has now resulted in fraud and forgery charges against two men and a woman — 38-year-old Fareed Raza, 30-year-old Saheem Raza and 27-year-old Nazifa Raza.

Police say in a similar scam, a 76-year-old man in Pittsburgh sent more than $14,000 to an address in Richmond, B.C., in order to collect a fake prize from Publisher’s Clearing House.

An investigation into that case has resulted in fraud charges against 30-year-old Richard Williams of Surrey.

Vancouver police are warning about a spike in the number of such scams, saying in some cases seniors have been duped out of their entire life savings.