The Minnesota Attorney General’s office has reported that some Minnesotans report receiving telephone calls from Jamaican fraudsters claiming that they’ve won large cash prizes, vacation getaways, vehicles, or other prizes.
The Jamaican perpetrators of the scam can be threatening and relentless. As a result, some people have been bilked out of thousands of dollars in this scam.
How the Scam Works
A person may receive a telephone call from Jamaica (or another country) indicating that they’ve won a prize in a foreign lottery or contest. The person is told that to collect the prize, they must pay fees for shipping, taxes, insurance, customs processing, etc. The person is then asked to provide their banking or credit card information, or to wire money by MoneyGram or Western Union.
In some cases, the person may be asked to send a check to a certain location, either in a foreign country or to a “drop box” within the United States. Once the fraudsters have the routing information from a person’s check or their bank account information, however, they use this information to make unauthorized withdrawals from the victim’s bank account. Although there are many versions of this scam in operation, they all bear one common trait: a request that you send money to receive your prize. The scammer typically assures people that they will receive their prize shortly after the lottery has received their payment. Oftentimes, the fraudulent operator may try to gain credibility by claiming to be a lawyer, a customs official, or somehow associated with the Jamaican government.
In some cases, the caller may become hostile, even threatening physical violence to the potential victim of the scam. Some victims report that the caller was extremely aggressive, repeatedly calling the victim and harassing them or their family until they finally disclosed their bank information.
In some cases, the person may receive additional correspondence from the scam artist, indicating that the payment process has been delayed, but in most cases, the person never hears from the fraudulent operator again. Once the person has sent the money, contact with the operators is cut off, and the money is gone for good.