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I-Team 10 Consumer Alert: Jamaican Lottery scams

Posted at: 03/05/2013 2:41 PM
Updated at: 03/05/2013 5:55 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

You may have received a call telling you that you've won a foreign lottery. The scam has been around for a while. But now the scheme has a troublesome new twist.

There are horror stories out there of seniors losing their entire life savings. They lure you in with prospects of huge winnings. And while lottery scams are not new, experts say what separates this one from past ones are the threats and harassment that follow.

Jamaica is known for its beautiful beaches and tropical weather, but the U.S. Postal inspectors say the island is also home base for a foreign lottery scam involving con-men who are now threatening their victims.

Antonio Gomez, U.S. Postal Inspector, said, “The individuals who are actually perpetrating these schemes are incredibly violent individuals and extremely aggressive."
 
U.S. Postal inspectors say this is a troubling trend. Typically, con-men involved in lottery schemes call their victims, tell them they've won a prize and then try to convince them to pay a tax or fee to collect their winnings. The Jamaican ringleaders don't stop there.
 
Gomez said, “If there is any kind of push back from the victims, they are incredibly aggressive."

With new technology like Google Earth, the con-artists are able to see a satellite photo of their victim's home up close and then use that information to threaten them.
 
Gomez said, “I see you live at 1234 main street and I see your red door with the blue bird on it and if you don't send us the money, we will have someone deal with you personally."
 
So, postal inspectors are stepping up efforts to combat this new gang crime and protect U.S. citizens.
 
Gomez said, "We currently are working with the Department of Justice and extraditing individuals from Jamaica to us to face federal charges."
 
In the meantime, keep this in mind.
 
Gomez said, "There is no foreign lottery, not out of Jamaica, not out of Costa Rica, not out of Spain, not out of anywhere else."

I-Team 10 checked in with the Federal Trade Commission and they have a little more good advice. First, playing a foreign lottery is a violation of federal law so avoid the temptation. Also, buying even one foreign lottery ticket puts your name on what they call "sucker lists" that the fraudsters buy and sell to each other, meaning you'll probably get more bogus offers. If you do get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local postmaster.

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Jamaica are now working together to try to put a dent in the fraud which is estimated at $300 million dollars a year.

 

 

Gomez said, "There is no foreign lottery, not out of Jamaica, not out of Costa Rica, not out of Spain, not out of anywhere else."

 

I-Team 10 checked in with the Federal Trade Commission and they have a little more good advice. First, playing a foreign lottery is a violation of federal law so avoid the temptation. Also, buying even one foreign lottery ticket puts your name on what they call "sucker lists" that the fraudsters buy and sell to each other, meaning you'll probably get more bogus offers. If you do get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local postmaster.

 

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Jamaica are now working together to try to put a dent in the fraud which is estimated at $300 million dollars a year.