An Australian couple’s Canadian trip prize turned out to be more than what they bargained for when they were conned into unknowingly transporting a few kilograms of methamphetamine worth $6.7 million.
The couple, aged 64 and 72, was taken to Canada as "winners" of an all-expenses paid trip that included flights, seven nights’ accommodation and new luggage.
But after returning to Western Australia from their luxury trip they grew suspicious of their new luggage and reported themselves to Customs, where authorities discovered 3.5 kilograms of methamphetamine found hidden inside each case.
The trip that the couple had just come back from turned out to be an elaborate scam that targeted the elderly to use them as drug mules.
The couple had been looking online for a holiday trip when they entered an online competition. The woman, who only wanted to be identified as Sue, said she was notified as the winner of the competition soon after.
“Be very careful if you win anything,” Sue told The Australian. “I would have ended up in jail for 25 years, and they could have ruined my life.”
The Australian Federal Police and Australian Customs officials uncovered the scam earlier this month. The AFP detailed the couple’s ordeal on Friday.
Authorities arrested a 38-year-old Canadian man at Perth airport and charged him with importing a commercial amount of methamphetamine, according to the Australian Broadcast Corporation.
Further investigations revealed that a highly organized drug syndicate targeted elderly Australians with a chance to “win” an all-expenses paid trip through a fake Canadian-based company called “AusCan Tours.”
“The organizers of this scam went to great lengths to provide a facade of legitimacy," AFP Perth Airport Police Commander David Bachi told The Australian. “Thankfully the travelers contacted Customs and didn’t dismiss their concerns, allowing us to make the arrest.”
It was not made known immediately how many other elderly couples were conned by the same scam, but authorities ask anyone who had been offered with a similar travel offer to report it to the AFP.