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FTC, Mounties Allege Lottery Scam

A federal court froze the assets of a pair of Canadian companies on charges of operating a cross-border foreign lottery scam that defrauded consumers, including the elderly, out of millions, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.

The FTC, along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, filed the complaint against Newport Group and West Star, both of Vancouver, British Columbia, and their principals Steve and Bruce Ironside, brothers and co-owners of the two companies.

According to the FTC, the companies contacted mainly elderly U.S. consumers to tell them they had won or were likely to win $140,000 to $10 million in a foreign lottery. To collect, the consumers had to pay a fee to Newport or West Star ranging from $500 to $35,000, the FTC said.

Most consumers who paid the fees received nothing, according to the FTC. The rest got well below the winnings promised, with one consumer receiving a check for $200.

The FTC said it was now seeking a court order for the two companies to return all money collected from consumers.

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