Scammers pretending to be with the “Jamaica Lottery” have been busy preying on the elderly in Southwest Florida over the last several months, taking advantage of vulnerable seniors who believe they have hit the jackpot. To avoid the risk of being added to a list of easy targets circulated among a network thieves, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is warning anyone who receives a phone call from smooth talking predators to simply hang up.
The so-called Jamaican lottery is just one in a long line of either phone-related or internet scams that prey on the compulsive impulses of the victim, the victim’s loneliness and/or their mental capacity. The scheme entices people to wire money in order to win enormous jackpots — or be rewarded for facilitating an account transfer for an overseas magnate who, in reality, doesn’t exist. Once a victim makes a payment, the scammer will begin to request more and more money, which in turn becomes a vicious cycle that often times will result in the loss of the victim’s life savings. When the victim finally runs out of money or realizes they’ve been scammed, the scammers may threaten the victim’s life, threaten to tell the victim’s family what they have done or bully the victim with relentless phone calls and harassment.
The Sheriff’s Office encourages you to keep in mind the following tips to ensure you do not become a victim of the “Jamaican Lottery”:
• If you did not enter a lottery you will not win one
• Participating in foreign lotteries while in the U.S. is illegal
• It is illegal for any agency to require that a prize winner pay anything in order to be compensated
• NEVER wire or transfer money to someone that you do not know
• Unless you are expecting a call from someone in Jamaica, do not accept or return a call with a phone number beginning with 876, which is the local area code for that country.
This scam and others like it are taking a large toll on our seniors not only financially, but emotionally and physically as well. These brazen con artists are raking in millions and millions of dollars from our neighbors, friends and family members. If you have been a victim of the “Jamaican Scam” or want information on how to protect a loved one who is being victimized, please contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at (239) 477-1242.
To arrange to have someone come out to your community to talk about this or another safety or security topic please contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Community Relations Section at 239-477-1400.