Jamaican task force to fight lottery scams; avoid ‘876’ phone calls

By Robb Hicken/ Chief storyteller

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.

 The Jamaican and U.S. governments already have a three-year-old joint task force that has been dealing with the schemes, which mainly target elderly Americans, but the problem has gotten worse.

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.


Filed under News You Can Trust

3 responses to “Jamaican task force to fight lottery scams; avoid ‘876’ phone calls

  1. Edwin F.

    Wow! these scam artists just won’t stop. And this lottery scam has been around for long already. Unfortunately, as people become more aware and updated about the scammers’ schemes, the scams become more advanced, too, with new twists and tactics.

    Last Thursday, I read a report posted at http://www.callercenter.com relating to this lottery trick. It said the victim got a call from a certain James Smith of the Publisher’s Clearing House and he was asked why he never showed up to claim his winnings. The victim got picked in a drawing and was notified through mail a good 3 weeks ago. Confused the victim sorted through his mail and there it was, a very authentic-looking mail with the PCH’s logo right on top and dated as James said. Though th victim was skeptical at first, somehow, he was influenced into believing the call was legit. Besides, James never asked for CC or upfront payments.

    The victim was then advised to prepare valid IDs. The call ended and after a few minutes, he got a call again supposedly from James’ supervisor, this time. The supervisor apologized and said James did a little mistake. The victim will not be able to claim his winnings anymore because the time has elapsed and it’s forfeited. The victim reacted and asked if there was anything he could do to still get the money, and this was what the culprits were counting on. So the victim was told he could send some “monetary” gift to bribe the auditing officer and cover up for the victim about not being able to claim earlier. The victim agreed and sent $200. After a few days, he got another call about having to send another $200. At the end of the month, the victim sent a total of $800 to the scammers before he realized it was a scam and there was no prize at all.

  2. Pingback: Sweepstakes or not, BBB advice holds true: Heavy accent a dead ringer for scam | snakeriverBBB

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