Scam of the day – October 17, 2015 – Jamaican lottery scam drives victim to suicide

Regular readers of Scamicide.com will remember that I have written about the Jamaica lottery scam for more than three years.  Jamaica is a hot bed of phony lottery scams, victimizing unwary Americans for more than ten years.  Estimates of the amount of money lost by victims of this scam range from a low of 300 million dollars per year to as much as a billion dollars annually.  Generally they way the scam operates is that the targeted victim is told on the telephone  that he or she has won a lottery (that they never entered), but that the victim needs to pay some administrative fees before receiving the huge prize.  The victims of this scam pay the fees, which can run into thousands of dollars, but never get the prize. The telephone call generally comes from the 876 area code which is the area code for Jamaica.   Scammers in Jamaica make as many as 30,000 calls each day to the United States telling people that they have won a non-existent lottery.   Recently CNN reported about the suicide of a victim of the Jamaican lottery scam, Albert Poland Jr. who killed himself  as a result of the stress related to the lottery scam in which he was constantly harassed by scammers seeking more and more money.  Still a believer however, in his suicide note he said he hoped he would be vindicated when his family received the 2.5 million dollar prize from Jamaica.

In the Scam of the day of May 15th I reported to you that following three days of deliberation a North Dakota jury convicted Sanjay Williams, of Montego Bay, Jamaica of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering charges related to the Jamaican lottery scam. This particular case was four years in the making and started when an 86 year old North Dakota widow, Edna Schmeets lost her entire life’s savings of $300,000 to Jamaican scammers who telephoned her and told her that she had won a 19  million dollar Jamaican lottery, but that she needed to pay taxes and fees before she could claim her prize.  Sentencing of Williams has been delayed to give Mr. Williams time to consider cooperating with investigators about others involved in return for a lesser sentence.  Williams faces a maximum of forty years in prison

TIPS

As I have often told you, it is difficult to win a lottery you have entered.  It is impossible to win one that you have not even entered.  You should always be skeptical about being told that you have won a lottery you never entered.    In regard to the Jamaican lottery scam, I urge you not to pick up the phone if your Caller ID shows the 876 area code.  Don’t establish any relationship with these scammers.  They will hound you if you do.  It is also important to remember that it is illegal to play foreign lotteries unless you are present in the other country.  While it is true that income taxes are owed on lottery winnings, legal lotteries never collect tax money from winners.  They either deduct the taxes from the winnings or leave it up to the winners to pay their taxes directly to the IRS.  You also should never pay a fee to collect a legal lottery prize.

Scam of the day – May 15, 2015 – Jamaica lottery conviction

Last week, following three days of deliberation a North Dakota jury convicted Sanjay Williams, of Montego Bay, Jamaica of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering charges related to the infamous Jamaican lottery scam by which many Americans, most elderly have been scammed out of money after being told that they have won the non-existent Jamaican lottery.  This particular case was four years in the making and started when an 86 year old North Dakota widow, Edna Schmeets lost her entire life’s savings of $300,000 to Jamaican scammers who telephoned her and told her that she had won a 19  million dollar Jamaican lottery, but that she needed to pay taxes and fees before she could claim her prize.  Sentencing of Williams has been delayed to give Mr. Williams time to consider cooperating with investigators about others involved in return for a lesser sentence.  Williams faces a maximum of forty years in prison

TIPS

As I have often told you, it is difficult to win a lottery you have entered.  It is impossible to win one that you have not even entered.  You should always be skeptical about being told that you have won a lottery you never entered.  It is also important to remember that it is illegal to play foreign lotteries unless you are present in the other country.  While it is true that income taxes are owed on lottery winnings, legal lotteries never collect tax money from winners.  They either deduct the taxes from the winnings or leave it up to the winners to pay their taxes directly to the IRS.  You also should never pay a fee to collect a legal lottery prize.

Scam of the day – February 18, 2015 – Jamaica lottery scam extradition

Regular readers of Scamicide.com will remember that I have written about the Jamaica lottery scam for more than three years.  Jamaica is a hot bed of phony lottery scams, victimizing unwary Americans for more than ten years.  It has been estimated that Jamaican scammers operating phony lotteries steal more than three hundred million dollars from Americans annually.  Generally they way the scam operates is that the targeted victim is told on the telephone  that he or she has won a lottery (that they never entered), but that the victim needs to pay some administrative fees before receiving the huge prize.  The victims of this scam pay the fees, which can run into thousands of dollars, but never get the prize. The telephone call generally comes from the 876 area code.  Scammers in Jamaica make as many as 30,000 calls each day to the United States telling people that they have won a non-existent lottery.  Although Jamaican officials have recently become increasingly aggressive in trying to shut down these scams, it wasn’t until now that the first scammer has been both indicted by an American grand jury and extradited by Jamaican authorities to the United States, where the accused scammer, Damion Bryan Barrett is facing charges of 37 counts of wire fraud.

TIPS

As always, the best place to look for a helping hand is at the end of your own hand. Here are a couple of important things to remember.  You cannot win a lottery or contest that you did not enter and it is illegal for Americans to participate in foreign lotteries in the first place.  In addition, if your caller ID shows that you are receiving a call from the Jamaican area code of 876, you should not even answer the call unless you have a friend vacationing in Jamaica.  Don’t fall for this scam.

Scam of the day – July 27, 2014 – Senate holds hearings on the Grandparent scam

Recently the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on the infamous Grandparent scam, which occurs when a scammer calls an elderly person posing as their grandchild who has been involved in some sort of emergency and needs the grandparent to wire money to them right away.  One 81 year old witness at the hearing spoke about receiving a call late at night from someone purporting to be his grandson who needed bail money after being arrested on a drug charge.  In response to the call, the witness testified how he purchased a  $7,000 prepaid money card and then provided the money card information to the scammer who has never been heard from again.  It was only afterwards that the witness was able to reach his grandson on his cell phone to learn that the entire matter had been a scam.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging has in recent years focused much attention on scams preying upon older Americans, such as the Jamaican lottery scam, income tax scams, Social Security scams and Medicare fraud.

TIPS

Never wire money unless you are absolutely sure about to whom you are wiring the money and it is not a scam.  If a claim about a medical or legal emergency is made, contact the hospital or legal authorities in the area to confirm that the information is accurate.  Make sure that you have the cell phone numbers of your grandchild as well as  anyone with whom your child or grandchild is traveling so you can confirm any calls claiming that an emergency has arisen.  Call the child directly on his or her cell phone to confirm the story.  Students traveling abroad should register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.  This program can help with communications in an emergency situation.

Scam of the day – March 18, 2013 – Jamaican Lottery Scam update

Lottery scams are one of the most popular scams for scam artists because they work so effectively.  They start when you receive a telephone call telling you that you have won some lottery, usually based in a foreign country.  Soon thereafter, however you are told that you need to pay either taxes or administrative fees.  The victims of this scam end up paying thousands of dollars in phony fees and taxes, but never receive a dime of lottery winnings.  The island of Jamaica has become a hotbed of this type of scam with daily calls to the United States totaling more than 30,000 and as much as 300 million dollars stolen  last year alone from unwary victims, many of them senior citizens.  The problem has gotten so bad that the U. S. Senate Special Committee on Aging had hearings last week about how to stop this scam.  The Jamaican government has recently passed new laws with the intention of cracking down on this scam, but with government officials in the past having been actually a part of this scam, it remains to be seen as to the extent of the Jamaican government’s commitment to stopping this scam.

TIPS
It is hard to win a lottery you have entered.  It is impossible to win one that you have never even entered.  A little skepticism can save you a lot of money when you are told that you have won such a lottery.  It is also important to note that it is illegal to play foreign lotteries.  If you receive a telephone call from the 876 area code, the area code for Jamaica, you may wish to not even answer the phone unless you have family vacationing in Jamaica, because there is a good chance that if you have no connection to Jamaica, the person on the other end of the line is a scam artist.  In regard to income taxes on lottery winnings, they indeed are subject to income tax, but either the lottery sponsor deducts taxes from your winnings or leave it to the winners to pay their own taxes.  They never collect taxes.  Legitimate lotteries also do not charge you administrative fees before you can claim your prize.  If you are told that you must pay money, under whatever guise they use before you can claim your winnings, the lottery is a scam.