'Aggressive' Con Artists at Center of Jamaican Lottery Scam - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

'Aggressive' Con Artists at Center of Jamaican Lottery Scam

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Jamaica is home of beautiful beaches and tropical weather, but U.S. postal inspectors say the island is also home base for a foreign lottery scam.

Investigators say a Jamaican lottery scheme has been a huge problem for the past few years -- but now perpetrators have found frightening ways to put a twist on their fraud.

"The individuals who are actually perpetrating these schemes are incredibly violent individuals and extremely aggressive," said Antonio Gomez, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Inspectors say this is a troubling trend.

Typically, con artists involved in lottery schemes call their victims, tell them they've won a prize and then try to convince them to pay a tax or fee to collect their winnings.
 
Some Jamaican ringleaders don't stop there.

"If there is any kind of push back from the victim, they are incredibly aggressive," Gomez said.

With new technology like Google Earth, the con artists are able to see a satellite photo of their victim's home up-close, and they use that information to threaten them.

Gomez described the push like this: "'I see you live at 12345 Main Street and I see your red door with the mailbox with the blue bird on it, and if you don't send us the money, we will have someone come and deal with you personally.'"

Investigators are stepping up efforts to combat this new crime gang and protect U.S. citizens.

"We currently are working very closely with the Department of Justice and actually extraditing individuals from Jamaica to United States to face federal charges," Gomez said.

If you get one of these calls, remember this:

"There is no foreign lottery-- not out of Jamaica, not out of Costa Rica, not out of Spain, not out of anywhere," Gomez said.

Officials say these are extreme cases.  Most of the time a con-artist tries to convince you to pay a fee in order to collect winnings in a foreign lottery or contest.

In any case, just say no. Saying yes is the equivalent of throwing money out the window.

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