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Scammers hound N.S. lottery winner who gave windfall away

Allen and Viiolet Large at their home in Lower Truro, Nova Scotia. The couple donated their multi million dollar lottery winnings to charities.

Paul Darrow/The Globe and Mail/Paul Darrow/The Globe and Mail

Allen Large just wants the scammers to leave him alone.

The Nova Scotia resident and his wife, Violet, made international headlines last year when they won $11.25-million on the lottery and decided to give almost all of it away. But with the publicity came hard-luck stories and swindlers.

Mr. Large said they were "harassed" from the time their new wealth became known. This continued even as Ms. Large's cancer worsened. She died in the summer, leaving her husband grieving and increasingly upset at being hassled.

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The latest scam is an e-mail claiming to be an offer of money from Mr. Large. A Globe and Mail reader who saw last year's article contacted the original reporter to check on its veracity. And the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported that a woman in Australia had received a similar message, asking for banking information.

"I have no idea how it's happening," Mr. Large said Sunday from Lower Truro, an hour north of Halifax. "I got calls from Argentina and elsewhere. I just said 'talk to your police.' "

The Larges hit the jackpot in July of 2010.

They decided to keep about 2 per cent of the money for themselves, in case of emergency. The rest was split between immediate family and charities, with recipients ranging from animal-protection agencies to churches to health-care services. By November, the money was largely gone.

The Larges' story prompted media attention from around the world. The couple handled the fuss with grace and good humour, welcoming a parade of reporters into their 19th-century house.

At the time, they were driving a five-year-old truck and a 13-year-old car. They had neither a microwave nor voice-mail. The couple had always lived modestly, retiring to their native Nova Scotia after years in Ontario, where he worked as a welder and steelworker and she was employed at a cosmetics factory.

But they were materially content and felt no desire to go on a spending spree.

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"We're not big livers, we don't live high," Ms. Large said then. "We're country. We weren't born with a silver spoon in our mouths."

Mr. Large said last year that any scammers were "gently" turned down. But the persistent attention wore at him. An earlier e-mail solicitation that circulated in December sparked an angry response.

"I hope they catch him [and]put them away for a good long time [working]on a rock pile with a teaspoon to break up stones – in his bare feet," Mr. Large was quoted saying in the Herald.

On Sunday, he said he had no role in any e-mail pitch or offer. And he voiced his pain at how they had been targeted.

"We've been harassed for over a year, ever since we won," he said. "How can you deal with it without getting bitter?"

A moment later, his voice was breaking as he moved to cut short the conversation. But he didn't forget his good graces.

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"I can't talk about it," he said with a sob. "I lost my wife. I can't go on. Good day."

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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