Financial Advice

Rounding Up Foreign Lottery Scammers

In the past, we’ve told you about a group of Jamaican scammers who called people in the US with phony prize, sweepstakes and lottery offers. Just last week, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that eight Jamaicans were extradited to the US and now are in custody in North Dakota. These eight people were charged with using a lottery scam to trick at least 90 people out of more than $5.7 million dollars.

This case is part of a law enforcement operation that has taken years of work by the FBI’s Bismarck office, the US Postal Inspection Service, the US Attorney’s Office, DOJ, and the government of Jamaica – which arrested this group last year. Here at the FTC, we want to make sure you know how to spot these scams – and tell us when you spot them.

Why do foreign lottery scams work? Because these scammers play on our hopes for good fortune. After all, who doesn’t want to win the lottery? But, if you get a call or letter offering a chance to play – or saying you’ve already won a foreign lottery, know this:

  • Playing a foreign lottery is illegal. Both by phone and by mail.
  • Never pay for a prize. And never wire money (or give the numbers from a prepaid card or gift card) to anyone who asks you to. These are sure signs of lottery scams.
  • Buying even one foreign lottery ticket means your name gets added to lists that scammy telemarketers buy and sell to each other. You’ll get lots more calls and letters with scam offers.

If you get mail that looks like a foreign lottery, give it to your local postmaster. And remember: you can help the FTC fight these scammers by telling us when you spot a foreign lottery offer.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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