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Jamaican Lottery Scam:
You no doubt have heard of the Nigerian 419 scams – this is where you receive an email advising you that you have inherited funds from a long-lost and unknown relative; or that a slightly shady senior member of a country’s leadership had absconded with millions of dollars and help was needed to move the money. Well there is a new one targeting the elderly, it is the Jamaican Lottery Scam aka 876 scam (named after the telephone area code for Jamaica). According to the Maine Attorney General’s office, the Jamaican Lottery Scam was near the top of the list of consumer complaints (See the Maine Attoney General’s video program describing this scam and others).
This scam was/is run out of the Montego Bay area of Jamaica, and targeted elderly individuals. Western Union, a financial services company, shut down their Montego Bay area operations in mid-August 2012 for two weeks to investigate the instances of fraud which were transiting their financial network as funds from the US. The miscreants behind the scam, used the Western Union network to have their unsuspecting target, and elderly individual, transfer funds to the criminal in Jamaica.
In March 2013, KSNV News 3 reported on how the scammers had taken on a more heavy handed approach. Specifically, when a targeted individual pushed back on their efforts, they would become very aggressive. KSNV reports, “The individuals who are actually perpetrating these schemes are incredibly violent individuals and extremely aggressive,” said. U.S. Postal Inspector Antonio Gomez. 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. “If there is any kind of push back from the victims, they are incredibly aggressive,” Gomez said. 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.” ‘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,’ ” Gomez said.
What to do? Remember if you didn’t buy a lottery ticket, you didn’t win a lottery. Similarly, if you receive a phone call from an unknown person offering you seemingly something for nothing, hang up. Lastly, make a note of any information available, caller-id, male or female, cadence, accent, and intonation and include this in the report you will make to your local police or attorney general (or equivalent if outside the US). Only if each one of these crimes is noted and reported, will law enforcement be in position to intercede and help keep you safe and secure.
Take a moment and hear an actual call between a Jamaican scam artist and his target, an elderly individual in Maine.
And film recording of a testimony before the US Senate in March of 2013 of an elderly victim who had been sending money to a number of foreign entities, because she thought they were her friends.
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