Rounding up foreign lottery scammers

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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.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Thank you for alerting me to this problem.

A big thank you to all the law enforcement agencies who worked to put these crooks away.

I have persons, calling me telling me that I have a government grant and I have to pay a fee to get it and also someone from bennit republic saying I have a settlement from DHL and I have to pay to get the money

That is a most definate scam.

FTC scam out of Suffolk county ny. Federal assistance agency tell people they are elligible for grants.there phone number 631-770-7061, Frank jones, FTC agent pay huge postage and delivery fee for $$$$$$$

Yes I have understood everything and I will never believe that I have something like in the foreign Lotari have won because I will never play abroad from my country. The alone already shows that all is lying is.Hier with us make fraudsters by telephone in which they As a nephew or grandson the nimand has seen and demand the money from the elderly. Also a kind of cheating. Thank you for your message.

I find it so easy to deal with these things. Whenever I pick up the phone and hear "You have won...", I hang up. Whenever I get an email telling me I am a beneficiary for millions, I delete it and go on with my day. I don't expect money or prizes for free, and these Good News offers are never free.

If you're even tempted, and obviously it happens if 57 people were scammed out of 90 million dollars, (which is only in this story reported. - there are so many more people being conned), just hang up the phone. Don't let curiosity or greed get you in trouble.

I get emails all the time informing me I have won a lottery, inheritance, etc. I just delete them. Should I be forwarding them to you? If so, what email address should I use? Thank you! D.A.

You can forward the phony email to spam@uce.gov, the FTC’s email address for spam.  This database helps the FTC bring cases involving scams promoted via email. Most importantly, delete the email.

The more the U.S. public learns about these scammers and rejects their games the sooner this foul practice will collapse. Don't waste time and money on any of these phony emails.

I have just given the UK POLICE in LONDON names of organisers and the people in Jamaica I unwittingly sent money and received threats when I would not send more ONCE I am given a reference number I would be happy to give my police reference my contact is peter the information was very thorough Peter

these folks bugged me for 2 years about this lottery. I even reported them to the police in 2014 but they were not curtailed, so I just did not answer the phone. my name is Patty but when someone one the other end of the phone wants to speak to Potty I know right away it is a scam.

What I would like to know how do these people get access to your home address, phone number and email address. That's at least in my opinion a place to start. I get emails all the time about lottery winnings

What I'd like to know is how do these people get your information? i.e. email address, telephone number!

If you are really interested in catching some of these Jamaican scammers again. I've been in contact with them for the past couple of months just wasting their time. They always think "today is the day we'll get his money", well, no they won't. This all started when I received a call that "You've won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes!" Woohoo, NOT! I filled out the form with my contact information and the full story. They are going to call me tonight at 4:00PST. Even better, I've recorded almost the whole thing.

What I cannot comprehend is that the companies that make and provide cell phone service are not as knowledgeable as hackers. We pay the companies for service and we have trusted them with our personal and confidential information, but they do not seem to realize that it is their responsibility to protect that information. Why can't THEY battle the hackers with all of the technology a cell phone provider and manufacturer should have. They designed the software, so why can't they redesign it? It is their responsibility to us, their paying customers, to make sure we get the best cell phone service. With so, so many people getting numerous calls daily from scammers is not what I call good cell phone service, and they are not living up to their end of our agreement. They need to find a solution regardless of the cost they may have to pay and pit their customer's privacy as their first priority.

Hope James Washington is one of them!

My parents got scammed for over $6000. They had to send thru Wal Mart you can't tell me they don't know what's going on.whrn my dad thought funny only a name and city, the person said it's always this way?? So made me think they had some idea. This is all after the fact

8oo service 866-725-2203; 877-531-0362 and several numbers listed in Nevada area code 702. I do NOT answer any call that I do not know. Nos. show up on TV and phone. Usually the above nos. ring several times and when they are not answered, they hang up.

These Jamaican people from Mega Millions took me. They tell you one amount and then it's more and more. I quit sending $ in Febr and they still call but knowing their phone #, now they call with unknown # or no name. These people are brutal. I just asked for my $$ back but that's not going to happen, it's gone to aunt ?? She needed help!

You should be working with small FSP's who cash checks and wire money to be able to report these in real time. When I worked for a check casher we just turned away, there was no indication the FTC cared to know about or had any way to report them and I used to see up to a dozen a week walk in my doors.

united we stand, and put crooks, frauds all, to jail

Thank you for a job well done. I love getting the latest scams as I am getting older and you newsletter is a constant reminder for me just to hang up the phone. Thank You so much!

i have a victim of a scam initiated from an offshore entity and all this interests me. I have reported it to the FTC in March (14-15)

Thank you FTC. About 5 to 6 years ago my mother in Redlands, CA was cleaned out by these creatures. They took her life savings before I found out about it. She was 83 years old at the time. This depressed her so much that she actually just stopped living, lied down and died. I am so glad that at last something is being done. Law enforcement was unable to do anything at the time of the crime.

My mom also was 83 and there took for 150,000 maybe if we stand unite we can hold some Jamaican government accountable.

1-876-362-4053, 1-876-343-0448. Jamaican sounding guy keeps calling us about lottery winnings. I know there are scams so we just hang up on them. Yet he still kept bugging us. Now not too many from him now.

I keep getting in my SPAM mail that I have a gift from Amazon I never reply is this a scam

Highly good and helpful. Thanks FTC.

Is there going to be any kind of restitution. My Mom lost overy 150,000,she is 85 now, but still awaiting the delivery of these millions. She suffers from dementia aND it kills me everytime I try and tell her there is no money. This is just pure evil,to Con people out of money that they worked so hard for. It is so hard to believe that her money is just gone,and no one can help her get not even 1 dollar back.
I appreciate the efort to catch these snakes, but I had tried to report to every agency you can think of and no-one responed.
This was in 2013 it started.

Thanks. But why did it have to take so long, so many seniors scammed,so much money lost. Never to be recovered. Too little. Too late.

What about those Publishers' Clearing... sweepstakes where they send you daily winning offers & ads to buy their overpriced products, but you NEVER win anything? They should be put out of business ASAP!!

There are more scammers working harder than law enforcement.

My Mom's best friend is being scammed by someone and has been going on for almost 1 year... supposedly won some foreign lottery and money has been coming for almost a year... yet she keeps having to send more and more money... they even have claimed to be the IRS. NOBODY has been able to convince her its a scam. HUNDREDS of Thousands $$$ later and she still keeps sending. WHO DO I NOTIFY... ?? My mom will lose her friend if I turn this over to someone that can stop it because SHE is the only friend that she has told and made my mom swear secrecy... BUT I can't continue to let this poor lady get taken advantage of any longer ... she is in her late 80's and has going through her saving too too fast. FBI ??

Jamaican "man of god" John Cooper from Mega Millions Sweepstakes Lottery Company tried to get me to repeat back a lot of suspicious info on Sat 4 May 17, as if he was trying to record me saying certain things. Didn't give personal info or get to the point of being asked for money or personal info, but he was VERY convincing about me having won a sweepstakes I entered 4 years ago...WARN anyone in your life who might fall prey to these skilled scammers! They are the scum of the earth and need to be stopped ASAP! If you get a call, REPORT IT to the FTC!!!!

My husband has been scammed out of over $30K in the last 6 months. The caller persists in calling and is now calling for another $4500. He just called 5 minutes ago from 423-438-1624. Other recent numbers are: 442-201-1924, 804-417-4256, 423-436-0676 and 804-435-5989. He says he is John Boardman, President (I don't know of what) and has a prize of $3.5 million. Please get this guy. Call me at 804-xxxxxxx if you need any other info. Thanks, Pam

These are useful details for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I got took, I've reported it continuously, what noe

They tired this on my grandparents and we are Jamaican. Little did they know that our family back in Jamaica helped track them down when they picked up the money from a certain Western Union and were arrested on the spot and bought to Florida. 10 years of hard time for these crooks.

Thank God for your foresight. They are not all Jamaican though but every crook caught is one less preying on unwitting people.

stop trying to spamm people

I got a call from Egypt (20 82 846 186) yesterday, I didn't answer. Is this a scam as well?

The call might not really be from Egypt. Scammers use technology to hide the number they're really calling from. They might make it seem like they're calling from your area code, or from a number far away.

Dad in FL almost got took but gave nice man a lot of info. Had a Postal money order ready to go out for >2K but was able to get it before it left post office. Postal Employees need to question older folks as to why they need a Money order??? If they say I won the lottery then they would know to alert Postal inspector and set up a sting.

A guy named Geofrey Falco # 512-696-1418 called and said I won $800,000. He even said to call the Fed. Gaming &Trade Commission @ 202-379-1884 with my claim # wm55424 to verify. Did not call him back, maybe you should! I never even played a foreign lottery! How do they get our info??

We got scammed out of 34 thousand dollars and my wife pawned all our jewelry to get cash to send to the scammers and couldn't get the loans pd off at pawn store so we now have no jewelry value 25 thousand dollars I hope they get caught and go to jail forever they have no business being around we hang up when they call this has been going on for over 2 yrs I have turned them in with phone numbers but to no avail. they took everything and still want more

others numbers are 18768431649-12396764163-15743099553-18765245319 Gobal Internatinal,AMERICAN CASH REWARDS,Mega Winners International

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