A Lottery Scam, aka “Jamaican Lottery Scam” or “876 Area Code Scam” is a type ofadvanced-fee fraud which begins with a consumer receiving an unsolicited notification generallyvia mail, email, or phone. The notification usually alleges that the consumer has won a large sumof money, sometimes including a high class vehicle. The notifications usually stress theconsumer to keep the winning as confidential and demand the consumer call their selected agentbefore making any more decisions with the notification. When consumers make contact with thescam artist, the scammers tend to be impatient with the consumer. The scammer will alwaysrequest money from the consumer in order to process the winnings. Scammers claim thisrequested money is for “Government Taxes”, “Shipping & Handling”, and even “Insurance”.Green Dot Money Pak aka Green Dot Money Cards are becoming the preferred payment forscam artists in the Lottery Scam Industry.The truth is, it is against the law for companies in the Lottery Industry to charge money for awinning. Scam artists’ preferred method of payment is via Western Union or Green Dot MoneyCards, aka Green Dot Money Pak. Mailings will sometimes include a check that the scammersrequest the consumer to deposit and then wire funds from this amount to the scammer in order topay the “fees”. This check, after funds have been transferred, typically bounces, leaving theconsumer to pay the bad check fees. The scammers have been known to disappear after this,destroying their phones known as “throw away phones”. The FBI estimates that these phoneshave a life span of 60 hours. Other instances have even gone as far as the scammers selling theconsumers information to other scammers to be taken advantage of even further. In all cases, theconsumer never receives any winnings.The scam generally originates from Jamaica, where fraud is nothing less than an organized crimewith the Jamaican Observer saying that more than 30,000 calls are made from the country about
such hoaxes every day. In 2006, the Better Business Bureau received nearly 8,200 inquiries fromconsumers on foreign lottery scams, a 14 percent increase from the previous year. The LotteryScam is estimated to generate some $300 Million per annum, making fraud one of Jamaica’slargest export industries. Lottery Scams are thought to be responsible for at least 500 murdersover the last 5 years and for half the gun crime in Jamaica.Identification:Example of a check sent to consumers by scam artists. Scam artists send these checks,accompanied by a letter stating they have won a large sum of money. They then ask consumersto deposit this check and wire them the funds from it.• Were you sent a check or money order with your notification? Fraudulent promoters willsometimes send a check or money order along with notification to convince you they are real.While the checks and money orders may look official, they are counterfeit!• Are you asked to wire transfer money or mail a personal check to cover some type of fee ortaxes? Fraudulent promoters will ask you to deposit the check or money order and then instructyou to wire money or send a personal check back to them to cover what may seem like legitimatefees, such as processing, administrative, handling or tax fees. They also may instruct you to call anumber to claim your winnings. When you do, they will try to get you to send money or ask forpersonal identification information that will undoubtedly be used for identity theft purposes. Ifyou deposit a bogus check or money order in your bank account, keep in mind that you will beheld responsible for any money you spend or send to anyone else.• Does the lottery promoter’s name and address on the check match the name and address on theenvelope? In many instances it does not. The company name is usually different on the check,the bank name on the check is fraudulent and the account number stolen – making the check acounterfeit. Sponsors of legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes identify themselves prominently ontheir checks and on the envelopes.
• Are the notifications sent by people claiming to be bankers, gaming officials, claims agents, taxcollectors, attorneys, or a high ranking government official? Scam artists will use any number oftitles in an effort to convince you that they are legitimate.Side Effects:Many consumers who have fallen victim to the Lottery Scam should be especially cautious.Many scammers will use the information of previously scammed victims and sell thisinformation to other scam artists. Consumers may begin receiving phone calls from other peopleclaiming to represent law firms or policing agencies alleging the consumer has been involved insome sort of money laundering scheme or has a debt due and must pay immediately. If theconsumer objects to pay, the caller then threatens the consumer with lawsuits, warrants, or evenarrest. Avoid giving any private information such as social security numbers, credit cardnumbers, or bank account information to anyone you do not know over the phone and simplydemand that the person send you written proof of the debt. If they cannot supply proof of whatyou owe, it most likely is not legitimate.What to do if you have been victimized:If you feel that you have been a victim of this scam, you should contact your local policedepartment and file a report. You may also wish to contact your local Better Business Bureau(BBB) , the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) , and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) .With this type of issue, the best way to prevent it is word of mouth. Make sure to discuss thiswith family and friends. Victims can become embarrassed or frightened by the scams that theymay be hesitant to share information, even with their closest relatives. If you believe someoneyou know has been victimized, let them know that they are not alone and it is not something tobe embarrassed of. Their voice needs to be heard in order to keep others from falling victim tothis scam.• Report check fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.• Report postal mail fraud to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service athttp://postalinspectors.uspis.gov.• File complaints against businesses at www.bbb.org.• If the phony check was drawn on a federally insured financial institution contact the FederalDeposit Insurance Corporation at 877-275-3342 or www.fdic.gov.• If the phony check was drawn on a foreign bank, contact the United States Secret Service by
visiting www.secretservice.gov.• If the phony check comes from scam artists impersonating a real business or organization,notify that business or organization.Stories:An 82 year old man was contacted by someone claiming he won $22 Million. They demandedmoney for taxes and other fees. The man’s family has estimated he has sent the scammersbetween 3 and 5 Million dollars. The family noticed the man had become secretive about thelottery and is now so traumatized by the scam that he has been unwilling to cooperate withauthorities investigating the case. He is not cooperating out of fear that the scammers will killhim if he stops cooperating with them.A woman was contacted saying she had won a $2.5 Million sweepstakes. She was skeptical butthey assured her she was entered to win by a store she shopped at. She sent a small fee to processthe winnings, $150,000. She never received the winnings and filed for bankruptcy.“It all started with a phone call claiming he won the lottery and a car – he just needed to pay atransfer fee to collect the winnings,” said Kim Nichols, whose father lives in Ossipee, and sentmore than $85,000 to the scammers. “Over the next few months scammers preyed on hisemotions and gained his trust, coercing him into providing personal information and sendinglarge sums of money. They stopped at nothing to get money and regularly claimed they wereFBI, Custom’s and IRS agents.” "Warren" (name omitted to protect his privacy) is a trusting,highly-educated professional. He has degrees from both Dartmouth and Harvard. He did wellwith his investments. Unfortunately, a few years ago he began receiving phone calls and lettersfrom what appeared to be official government organizations and official lotteries. The calls andletters promised large sums of money to Warren. In some cases, he was to send the scammers“investment” funds. In others, he was to send them money to cover “expenses and fees” beforethey could release money allegedly due to him. The calls and correspondence were frequent;Warren was overly trusting and was essentially brainwashed by these scam artists.