A Nova Scotia man who made headlines around the world two years ago after he and his wife gave away most of their lottery winnings is heartbroken to see his name being used by email scammers.
Allen Large and his wife Violet won $11.2 million in a Lotto 6/49 jackpot in July, 2010. The Truro, N.S. couple decided to give away almost all of their winnings to family members, local churches, and volunteer and community groups in their community.
The couple said at the time they gave away the money because they just didn’t need it. They had enough retirement savings to get by on, and simply liked to play the lotto, never expecting to win a big jackpot.
Violet Large passed away in hospital in July, 2011, at the age of 79. Now, almost two years later, Allen is angry that bogus emails are still making their way around the world that try to take advantage of their good deed.
The emails started a month after the story of the Larges’ generosity made headlines. The email writers claim to be the Larges and offer to give away part of their winnings to the recipient.
The emails state all that is needed is the email recipient’s banking information. Some of the emails also ask for money to be sent for “processing fees.” Many of the emails also link to the story of the Larges’ win on CTVNews.ca.
Allen Large says he is furious that scam artists are still using his and his wife’s good name for their con.
“I’m madder than hell. Because people from all over the world -- I’ve had phone calls from Russia, Ukraine, Japan, China, Germany,” Large told CTV Atlantic last week.
“They’ll say. ‘I got your email right here with your picture and your address and phone number.’ And I’ll say, ‘Well I’m sorry ma’am or sir, you didn’t get that email from me. Because I don’t have a computer. I don’t want one’,” he says.
Large says it’s heartbreaking that his wife’s name is being used too.
“People say, ‘How come it bothers you?’ Well, after being married for 47 years, why wouldn’t it?” he says, between sobs. “Why wouldn’t it bother someone? If it didn’t bother someone, they didn’t think much of their marriage.”
Large says his wife knew about the scams before she died and wasn’t happy about it.
“She didn’t think much of it then and she’d think less of it now, after two years. But there’s nothing we can do, nothing anybody can do unless police get solid evidence,” Large said.
Because these emails can derive from anywhere in the world, it’s difficult to try to track down the perpetrators, police say. Even if the emails can be traced back to a certain IP address, it’s difficult for Canadian authorities to prosecute scammers from other countries.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says that “prize pitches” in which “winners” are told they must pay a fee in advance to receive a prize are one of the most common email scams. They advise those who receive such emails to report them to the CAFC, which tracks frauds in Canada and compiles statistics.
Those who think may have lost money to an email scam are advised to report it to local police.
For now, Large continues to honour his wife’s memory by buying lottery tickets every week, just as she wanted.
“We always bought tickets,” Large says, wiping away tears from his eyes. “Two days before she passed away, she said, ‘Don’t forget my tickets.’ So every week, I buy her her tickets.“
If he ever wins again, Large plans to give away all the winnings away, saying he doesn’t want to go through all the “trouble” and “friction” that the first win brought.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell