In November 2011, a Nampa couple was traumatized when they were exploited by a gang in Jamaica that said they were waiting outside their home waiting with a car, and all they had to to was send them the money to pay for the taxes on the car.
The gang described the home in detail to the point the couple called the police department. The view was from a googlemap, the police officer explained.
This couple was one of hundreds of thousands of American, who by conservative estimates have lost $300 million in Jamaican scams, an increase from $30 million in 2009.
On Thursday, it was announced the U.S. and Jamaican officials are working together to fight the proliferating lottery scams and telemarketing fraud. The schemes are so entrenched in Jamaica that some American police departments have begun warning elderly residents to be wary of calls from Jamaica’s 876 telephone code, which resembles the three-digit area codes used in the United States.
This is important because it will dampen the “30,000 calls are made into the U.S. from Jamaica attempting to defraud” American citizens every day. However, with the promise to stop the lottery scam gangs, BBB warns:
- Purchasing foreign lotteries are illegal. United States federal law prohibits mailing payments to purchase any ticket, share, or chance in a foreign lottery. Most foreign lottery solicitations sent to addressees in the United States do not come from foreign government agencies or licensees. Instead, they come from fraudulent companies that seek exorbitant fees from those wishing to play. The activities of these companies are neither controlled nor monitored by the government of the country in which they are located.
- Typically, those who pay the required fees never see any lottery tickets or any other evidence that lottery tickets were purchased on their behalf. In some cases, the soliciting company uses high-pressure telemarketing techniques to obtain credit card account numbers. Once they have the numbers, repeated unauthorized transactions are made to the accounts.
- As a general proposition, federal law prohibits sending lottery material through the mail. This material includes letters and circulars concerning a lottery, tickets or any paper claiming to represent tickets in a lottery, and payments to purchase such tickets.
- If you receive a mailed lottery solicitation that you think may be illegal, contact your local BBB and turn the entire mail piece over to your local postmaster or to the nearest postal inspector. Keep in mind, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.