In October 2013 the Burnaby RCMP Economic Crime Unit learned about a large scale scam that had defrauded numerous elderly people in the Lower Mainland including Burnaby, Surrey and Langley.
Despite the best efforts of police, the victims do not believe they are victims. We have done our best to convince them that this is a scheme and that they will continue to lose significant amounts of money, explained Burnaby RCMP Operations Officer Superintendent Stephan Drolet.
Sadly, this story is not unique. This is why we are encouraging the public to share this story with their families, friends and acquaintances. It’s up to all of us to ensure our loved ones, especially those that are vulnerable, are protected against these financial vultures.Police believe the fraud started back in 1999, when a man thought he was awarded contracts to do work on a pipeline for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. He was instructed by the suspects to pay fees in order to get paid for the contracts. The man passed away seven years ago, but his wife, an 88-year-old woman, continued the payments in the belief that the contracts she thought were worth $58 million, would be awarded.
Police said the woman believes she is communicating with legitimate Nigerian officials including Professor Charles Soludo, an actual former Executive of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Chuckwudi Oputa, a former Nigerian Minister of Justice. Many of these fraud rings use the names of real-life people to lend credibility to their stories, explained Cpl. Danielle O’Brien of Burnaby’s economic crime unit.The same names are used repeatedly by different fraud groups.
Since losing most of her money to the scam, the senior reached out to her friends and associates to help her pay the fees. She believes one day, she will share the proceeds with them.
Similar scams were rampant in the early 2000s. Victims believed they would receive millions of dollars if they continued to pay fees to the suspects posing as legitimate officials.
The pipeline scams have slowly dwindled as the victims either ran out of money or they discovered it was a fraud. Unfortunately, for these current elderly victims, the fraud continues and their family members remain extremely concerned and so do the police.
There is no shame in falling victim to a scam,said Supt. Drolet. These people are extremely sophisticated and by their very nature, they prey on the vulnerable. We want this fraud to stop. We don’t want anyone else losing any more money.
Six victims have recently been identified by the Burnaby RCMP.
The police are requesting that if you have fallen victim to this scam or continue to pay into it please contact your local RCMP Detachment or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).