No, You Didn't Win the Jamaica Mega Millions Lottery

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Jamaica US Lottery Scams
Elaine Thompson/APAnother version of the Jamaica lottery scam is by mail. Con artists are stealing an estimated $1 billion a year, largely from elderly Americans, the federal government estimates.
The phone rings, and your caller ID shows an 876 area code. Unless you're expecting a call from Jamaica, you probably shouldn't answer. It's likely going to be a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday warned consumers that the foreign lottery scam has once again reared its head. Foreign lottery scams are like other scams involving promises of a free trip or other prizes. They just make it seem like you've won a lot more.

The scam comes when you're asked to pay in advance for the taxes and fees so you can receive your huge prize from the nonexistent "Mega Millions" lottery in Jamaica. This time, according to the FTC, victims are being asked to make their payments using prepaid cards.

It has long been tradition in scams to make payment via money transfer services like MoneyGram and Western Union (WU) but sending money using a prepaid cards is the flavor of the month among criminals. Why? The money can't be traced, and once it's transferred, it's gone.

Many Reasons to Be Suspicious

Cracking down on the scams has been serious business of late in Jamaica. The Jamaica Constabulatory Authority's Lottery Scam Task Force won its first convictions earlier this year. It arrested 41 people last week and another 10 suspects a few weeks earlier. But the calls keep coming, costing some victims tens of thousands of dollars.

Here are some warnings to keep in mind:

  • Playing a foreign lottery is against the law in the U.S. Plus, you don't get calls from lotteries telling you that won. And you certainly won't hear from a lottery that you never entered.
  • 876 isn't the only sketchy area code. The Better Business Bureau notes that 809, 284 and 649 calls also have been attached to a variety of scams. All are area codes from Caribbean islands. They're among the few area codes outside the U.S. that allow calls to be placed directly, without the use of a country code.
  • Beware of spoofing. Just because a call comes from an area code that isn't tied to the Caribbean doesn't mean it's legit. Today's technology allows crooks to pose as just about anyone they care to, making your caller ID show whatever number they want. Never pay in advance to collect something you supposedly have won.
The FTC notes that some consumers who have gotten these scam calls have been threatened by the callers if they don't pay up (another tactic not common to legitimate lotteries). The agency suggests hanging up the phone as soon as you realize something's amiss.

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9 Comments

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grgblnk1

I really did win-I sent my money in and I'm waiting for my check--I can't wait!!!!!

July 31 2014 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gatlindoug

it is what it is,,fools are waiting to be victims...and there is so many professional victims..

July 31 2014 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HELLO SEXY

yep my x sister-n law has been paying these crooks for several years no one can convince her its a scam so sad

July 31 2014 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alfredschrader

The entire economies of Burkina Faso, and Nigeria are funded by thousands of people sending millions of these criminal emails every hour.
Check your spam filter. There's one in there right now.

July 31 2014 at 6:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
forkliftman53

according to oboma there are no foreigen countrys we are all one now

July 30 2014 at 10:05 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
smiles41

Scamming is easy... just took the voter registration lists for all those idiots who voted for obama!

July 30 2014 at 6:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mike711l

People who are convinced they won a lottery they didn't even play and get scammed out of their money DESERVE IT!

It's called an idiot tax.

July 30 2014 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
ferrandisj

There is another scam say to be located in Benin Republic, and via Gmail. U.S Custom is holding few millions on your name....... waiting for a fee of U.S.$ 69.00 for release, of course, using Western Union. Sometime same guy (s) switch to Bank of America of Charlotte, NC. Be aware!

July 30 2014 at 12:41 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
ambonding

If you fall for that BS you deserve to get taken.

July 30 2014 at 12:12 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply