Often times scammers leave big clues in plain sight but the average Joe would never look for them and most certainly get ripped off.
The American Citizen Services section in Kingston receives frequent inquiries from citizens who have been defrauded for hundreds and even thousands of dollars by Advance Fee Fraud scammers in Jamaica.
The most prevalent in Jamaica is the lottery scam, where scammers lead victims to believe they have won a drawing or lottery, but the cash or prizes will not be released without upfront payment of fees or taxes. Scammers frequently target the elderly or those with disposable income.
If it is too good to be true, it is not true. Simple, do not believe that you have won a lottery you never entered.
Check out these awareness tips about telephone scam originating from the Jamaican 876 area code:
- If you get a call saying you’re a winner – don’t pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate operations won’t require you to pay to collect your winnings.
- It’s against federal law to play a foreign lottery – so if you get a call it is likely a scam.
- Never wire money to anyone with whom you are not familiar.
- Never provide anyone with personal information such as bank accounts, pin numbers or Social Security numbers.
- Check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls.
- Be aware that there are many 3-digit area codes that connect callers to international telephone numbers – especially 876.
- If you do not have Caller ID, consider adding it to your phone service. Caller ID allows you to add a Call Intercept feature that screens calls and offers the option to reject suspicious international calls.
- Contact your phone service provider, local authorities, or the Federal Trade Commission to report a potential scam.
Check the following signs to see if you might be involved in a fraudulent lottery scheme:
- You receive an unsolicited call, letter or email claiming that you have won a lottery or contest you never entered or that other individuals or businesses entered for you, and that you must pay fees or taxes to claim the prize
- The caller indicates they are doing you a ‘service’ by allowing you to pay fees up front in order to avoid further hassles, taxes, paperwork, lawyers, etc.
- The caller provides stories explaining the urgent need for more money, and finds creative ways for you to obtain and send money, including using ‘Green Dot’ cards, selling property, taking loans, etc.
- A caller you do not know claims to know about your neighborhood, family, or personal situation
- If funds are not submitted, the scammers may feign anger or make threats. Threats include claims that they will report you to the IRS, to the police, or cause bodily harm.
- Scammers may involve unwitting accomplices to contact you, including your friends, family, neighbors or local police
- Scammers may subsequently pose as government officials or lawyers claiming that you must pay for their services to assist with your case, reclaim your scammed funds, or protect you from criminal prosecution. Although the caller may claim to be in Jamaica, he or she may ask that the money be sent to an account in another country or to an accomplice in the U.S. Alternatively, the scammer may state he or she is in a third country but request that funds be sent to the Jamaica.
If you think you have been a victim of a lottery scam, speak up and stop sending money.
Scammers are difficult to stop because most victims do not report the incident.
Report the matter immediately to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov/ and also the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership among the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BIA), at www.ic3.gov.
You can also inform the U.S. Embassy in Kingston at KingstonACS@state.gov and contact the local police.
Stop all communication with the scammers, if their calls do not stop, attempt to block their calls or consider changing your phone number.
If you have been the victim of a scam from area code 876, or believe a family member has been a victim, please contact local law enforcement.