Police are investigating after a south Wales pensioner lost her life savings in a competition scam.
Police are warning others to be wary
The 70-year-old woman from Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd, was called in January to say she had won several million pounds.
She was told she needed to send £10,000 to an address in Toronto to cover tax and solicitor's fees.
She sent the money, but heard nothing more. Detectives in Wales and Canada have now launched an investigation.
South Wales Police are warning other people to be vigilant, and not to fall for the conmen's scams.
The woman took a call from a man in January 2005, saying she had won a fortune in a competition. He claimed to represent the National Network Capital, based in Toronto.
He said that in order to claim her prize, she would need to send a cheque to the company to cover tax and legal fees. The woman followed the instructions, but heard nothing more and contacted the police.
The victim was "absolutely devastated", said Detective Constable Richard Andrews, based at Church Village Police Station.
"She doesn't have any other savings - just her pension - and feels very foolish and upset that she was taken in by this scam," he added.
"These cons, where people are told either by phone or in a letter that they have won a large cash prize, are not uncommon. Often they are schemes that claim to be based in Canada or even Africa but can be very difficult to trace.
"We want to warn people that any competition which claims you need to send money in order to receive a cash prize is almost certainly bogus.
"Never send anyone a cheque and never send them any personal details as they can use them to gain access to your bank account too.
"The best thing to do is to throw any letter straight in the bin and don't return any calls. If it seems too good to be true it probably is.
"This is a very sad situation and this lady wants to prevent anyone suffering the same devastating results."