The Windsor Police Service is confident it stopped 700 Americans from losing $20 each in a massive case of international marketing fraud.
The service's financial crimes unit received a complaint from a Windsor resident who said she received 700 unwanted and unsolicited letters at a local UPS outlet.
Police say the 700 letters contain sweepstakes, personal information and a quantity of money. The sweepstakes claims the consumer is entitled to $2.2 million US and in order to receive the money, the person was to send $20 US for processing.
After investigating, police determined the mail was to be sent to a company by the name of Information Reporting Group but was mistakenly sent to a Windsor resident.
"It appears everybody that replied to this particular scam put $20 inside," lead investigator Const. Rob Durling said.
Durling praised the woman who notified police.
"They were being a Good Samaritan. Upon realizing the mail wasn't for them, they reached out to us," he said.
Police determined the sweepstakes to be fraudulent and consider it to be part of a mass marketing fraud.
"We're still trying to trace both the source and end point, as to where this mail was to be directed," Durling said. "It's entirely possible this mail was sent [to Windsor] in error."
He said it's very difficult to solve cases like this.
"We're still going to do our best to identify and isolate the source of this scam," Durling said.
Durling doesn't believe a Windsorite was involved.
Investigators from Windsor, along with the assistance of Canada Post, the United States Postal Service and the Canadian National Anti-Fraud Centre, have identified the source of the mass mailing to be outside of North America, possibly coming from the Netherlands.
Investigators have spoken to a number of victims and have identified the age of the victims in this mass mailing to be 65-85 years of age.Durling said police have already started returning cash to those who mailed it.
Durling said mass marketing frauds prey on the elderly
"The warning we want to issue is that if, at the end of the day, it's too good to be true, it is," Durling said.
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