A Hamilton senior who was the victim of a $22,000 lottery scam has had her money returned and the culprit  has been arrested thanks to a police investigation.

The 88-year-old woman received a letter earlier this year saying she had won a lottery prize of $1.5 million. When she called the phone number on the letter, she was told that in order to claim the prize she first had to send more than $20,000 to an address in British Columbia to cover insurance and other incidental costs.

Eager to receive her prize, the woman followed the instructions and waited for the dough to roll in.

When the pre-arranged date to receive her winnings came and went, the woman told a family member, who reported the incident to Hamilton police.

With the help of Canada Post and the RCMP, the package with the woman’s money was located and returned to her.

Shortly after that, the fraud suspect attempted to collect the money and was arrested.

Police have charged a 28-year-old Richmond, B.C. man with fraud, identity fraud, uttering a forged document and use of a citizenship certificate.

Police have some tips to help people avoid becoming victims of a scam:

  • Never agree to withdraw large sums of cash from your account and send it to a stranger.
  • If you are suspicious about a transaction, check with family/friends and/or the Police before sending any money.
  • Lottery agencies will never ask a winner to pay any fees up front to receive a prize, lottery or sweepstake.
  • If the offer sounds suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Resist pressure to "act now." Don’t let suspects pressure you into making quick decisions about money or investments.