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Joint task force created to stop Jamaica lottery scams

Scam AlertScam Alert: Joint task force created to stop Jamaica lottery scams
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The feds are cracking down on Jamaican lottery scams, which bilked Americans out of more than $30 million last year, authorities said Tuesday.

The brazen con artists are transforming the tropical getaway into a fraudsters paradise — pulling in untraceable cash to finance the drug and gun trades with impunity, officials said.

"It's just an incredible amount of money that's coming down here," said Vance Callender, an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston.

"We've got cases from Honolulu to Maine."

Law enforcement hopes to change that, announcing a joint task force with the Jamaican government to break up the schemes.

The scams work like this:  A caller says you've won millions in an overseas lottery, but he needs you to wire a few hundred dollars to cover the taxes.  Payments only lead to other requests for money.

As victims try to recover losses, scammers even pose as police, saying they need more cash to aid the investigation.

Some have lost their life savings — like Ann Mowle, a 72-year-old retired bookkeeper from Monroe, N.J., who committed suicide in 2007 after reportedly losing $248,000 to a Jamaican lottery racket.

New Jersey police warned Mowle she was being taken, and even tried to scare off the scammers by phone — but they just laughed.

A college graduate who raised three children, Mowle was humiliated when she finally realized no one was coming to her door with a $2.5 million check — and she threw herself into the ocean.

The Jamaican scams, which are similar to Nigerian lottery swindles, have grown dramatically over the past two years, mainly targeting marks in the U.S.

The new task force will seek extradition of key suspects for trial in the U.S., Callender said.  It will also try to return money to victims from cash seized as it comes into Jamaica and by liquidating criminal assets.

U.S. agents already have started intercepting payments from victims, according to Callender.

He said $30 million is a conservative estimate of how much Jamaican scammers stole from Americans last year.  Some of the victims wind up in dire straits.

Callender said he met earlier this month with a Houston man in his 80s whose wife threatened to divorce him unless he stopped wiring money to Jamaica.

The man, who did not want to be identified, has lost $121,000 — nearly all of the couple's savings — and they are now getting by on his wife's meager salary and his Social Security benefits.

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8 comments. Last comment 5 years ago by grandpajohn.
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duckman's avatar - ducklogodrake64x64
Jacksonville Florida
United States
Member #23018
October 6, 2005
753 Posts
Offline
Posted: May 27, 2009, 4:18 pm - IP Logged

Sigh ....

If people would just stop responding to these calls, emails, or other "opportunities" the scammers would be out of business. There are so many scams out there that the best defense is to treat ALL unsoliticted phone calls and emails as SCAMS. Period. No exception.

If you get an unsolicited email or call, IT IS A SCAM. If everyone would simply follow this one simple rule there would be no one for the scammers to take advantage of.

    maringoman's avatar - kobold
    Massachusetts
    United States
    Member #37433
    April 14, 2006
    2166 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: May 27, 2009, 7:11 pm - IP Logged

    I'm sorry for those taken by these scam artists but surely how desperate or greedy can some people allow themselves to be? I only buy things I can see or from reputable websites like Amazon if it's online purchases.

    The only people who get to take my money and don't usually give me something in return are the Massachussetts and New Hampshire state lotteries and thats because I let them.

      Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
      Clarksville
      United States
      Member #487
      July 15, 2002
      17638 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: May 27, 2009, 7:54 pm - IP Logged

      The ones who they seem to target are the elderly.  If you have your grandparents or neighbors who are elderly, let them know about these scams.  Many sit all day and watch their favorite shows and don't have a clue about these scams.

      If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

      You never know when you will get another hit.

        Empress-N's avatar - voodoo
        If That # Looks Good, Play It!!!
        United States
        Member #73903
        April 28, 2009
        1433 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: May 28, 2009, 12:23 am - IP Logged

        A lottery scammer tried me, he sent me a fake check for $3,500. so I called him and he told me that the check I received was the insurance that they sent to me in good faith and that I must deposit it into my bank account, withdraw it within 24hrs and western union it to him and as soon as they receive the $3,500. they will release the $40 million they have for me as my winnings. so I said "oh really thats all I have to do" and he said yes,  so I told him I will do it first thing in the AM and laughed. I didnt do a single thing and they never contacted me again. 

        Whenever someone contacts me to tell me that I have won thousands or millions and they need me to send them money to release the payment to me I always tell them, "SINCE I WON SO MUCH MONEY, JUST TAKE THE FEE OUT OF IT AND SEND THE BALANCE". They always give up after that line.

         

        There is so much scams going on out there and everyone needs to be alert and very careful.

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          ThatScaryChick's avatar - 61A4sr9 jpg?1

          United States
          Member #56506
          November 21, 2007
          4726 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: May 28, 2009, 12:30 am - IP Logged

          It's simple really. If you didn't enter it (sweepstakes, lottery, contest, etc.), you didn't win it.

          "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

            diamondpalace's avatar - Untitled 2.jpg
            Dallas, TX
            United States
            Member #60284
            April 12, 2008
            3856 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: May 28, 2009, 1:23 am - IP Logged

            People, if you did not purchase a chance or enter a contest yourself, then it is illegal for you to win something.

            Also, how do you win something all the way across the country without entering in?? LOL

              HaveABall's avatar - rocket

              United States
              Member #72448
              March 18, 2009
              1010 Posts
              Online
              Posted: May 28, 2009, 1:45 am - IP Logged

              Yes, this is a sad abuse situation that several Americans have and are going through (all age demographics).  Apparently, the lesson to us is that money being committed to something is often a financial objective that can't be let go; but rather the money sender keeps sending the money hoping that all their fears will be eased and the original amount (PRIZE) will soon be received. 

              This addiction is so strong that even when the financially abused person is pleaded with to cease the ill actions of sending more money by the police, or their spouse pleading divorce in order to cut-off access to the ill used funds as quickly as possible, all is ignored for the hope of financial reimbursement  or gain.  Thumbs Down

              Having millions of dollars in my financial accounts means more, consistent fun for me.Lovies

                grandpajohn's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                williamsburg,ohio
                United States
                Member #71029
                February 17, 2009
                603 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: May 30, 2009, 1:05 am - IP Logged

                I got a call just the other day from one here in Ohio saying I signed up for something to do with a new ford mustang at the mall I told the girl i didn't and she trys to say well if you didn't someone in my family did and again I said no they didn't.She goes well someone did then tryed to tell me things I could get if I would just talk to her.Well I stoped her again and said sorry but I didn't then hung the phone up.

                "Don't Give Up.Don't Ever Give Up"

                Jim Valvano ex N.C.State basketball coach Thumbs Up