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Sweepstakes Hopefuls Hoodwinked

Victims of a phone scam have shown up at the U.S.-Canadian border from as far away as Las Vegas to collect on promised winnings from a foreign lottery, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday.

The scam apparently targets elderly Americans who enter mail-in sweepstakes.

Those targeted receive a telephone call from Canada from a person identifying himself as a lawyer, judge, Canadian tax official or U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. The caller tells victims they have won between $200,000 and $300,000 but must wire a duty or transfer fee of 2 percent of the winnings to a Canadian address in order to claim it.

Those who have refused to send money have been told they can pay the fee in person at one of the ports of entry in Buffalo, prompting some to show up at the border, CBP spokesman Kevin Corsaro said.

Victims are told not to report the winnings to their bank to avoid being taxed and that an armored car will deliver the winnings.

A U.S.-Canadian law-enforcement cooperative known as "Phone-Busters" tracks such scams.

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