Seniors warned of snail mail scam



Connie Vandenhoven knew it was too good to be true.

The Petrolia senior was recently surprised to see a letter from Spain in her mail. A lawyer from Zaragoza wanted to help her claim lost millions from a distant relative.

The man, “a business magnate” named Tomasz Vandenhoven had died during a short vacation in Myanmar during Cyclone Nargis. He supposedly left behind $9.2 million which the attorney offered to split 50-50 with Vandenhoven.

But she saw through the scam. “Reading this it is easy to see it is a scam. Some of the English is not good,” she says.

“If he is a lawyer and this is his client, he should know what to do but he doesn’t know what to do.”

Lambton OPP Const. Chrystal Jones says Vandenhoven is not the only one who has received the fake letter. At seminars for seniors people often hand her the envelopes asking if it is a scam. “People are still using the mail to deliver these letters, it’s not as common as using email or online but they are out there.”

Jones says scammers have easy access to personal information on the Internet and can compose some pretty convincing letters. “there is a lot of information available on the Internet and it is quite easy to find your mailing address, email and phone number…some of the information is being sold…They’re using whatever means they can to get to us as consumers, hoping that we will fall for the scam.”

Vandenhoven is afraid other seniors who get the same type of letter may be fooled. “Sometimes people see dollar signs,” she says. “I’m worried about it…They target seniors.

“The next step would have been can you give me your bank account and if you send them money or the bank account number, the cash will be withdrawn.”

Jones says seniors should live by the old adage if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

She adds if you receive a questionable letter “show it to someone they trust, call the family member that they’re talking about, the mother or father of the child and if you’re not sure call us.”

You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501.