U.S. seniors swindled by Canadian ticket sellers

U.S seniors are being victimized by Canadian lottery ticket resellers, according to a recent story on CNNfn, the financial reporting division of Cable News Network. Like alcohol in the 1930s, the resale of lottery tickets is outlawed in the U.S., but legal in Canada. The result? Ticket runners in Vancouver have replaced bootleggers in Windsor as a major source of dubious export income.

Companies working mainly out of Vancouver solicit lottery ticket sales through mass mailings and sophisticated telephone sales campaigns. Victims are often told that they’ve already won a prize, or are asked to answer a few questions for a “survey”. Of course, ticket buyers pay a huge mark-up (usually 200 percent) for the privilege of buying Canadian lottery tickets, which, as we all know (but don’t care to admit) offer extremely long odds at even the regular price.

Kate Pflaumer, a U.S. attorney in Washington, is prosecuting six Canadians who ran a lottery shop with 113 counts of violating U.S. laws that prohibit the resale of lottery tickets. Some elderly victims in that case lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Law enforcement officials say their chief concern is lottery resellersho swindle customers with unauthorized credit card transactions or fake lottery numbers. As Randy Thiemer, president of Vancouver ticket reseller C-W Group says (with great understatement) “It’s a game of chance. There are no guarantees.”