Regular readers of 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


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.