You (haven’t really) won!

Share This Page

For years, we’ve been hearing about lottery scams: the imposter who convinces you that you’ve won the lottery (you didn’t) – and all you have to do is pay some fees to collect your millions (you won’t). And for years, we’ve been hearing about lottery scams that originate in Jamaica, where telemarketing lottery scams became a cottage industry in some parts of the island.

Here at the FTC, we’ve helped criminal law enforcers investigate these types of cases. I’m happy to report that our sister agency, the Department of Justice, recently extradited a Jamaican man on charges that he was part of an international lottery scheme targeting older adults in the U.S. He’s the first person to be extradited in this kind of case.

Here’s the story:

According to the indictment, a 28-year-old Jamaican man, Damion Bryan Barrett, called people in the U.S., spoofing phone numbers to make it look like the calls came from the U.S., and often claiming they were calling from the IRS or Federal Reserve, or a well-known sweepstakes company. Barrett, the indictment says, told people they had won cash and prizes – which they could collect if they sent up to thousands of dollars in “fees.” Then, Barrett and his colleagues allegedly told people to send money to middle-men in southern Florida, who sent the money on to Jamaica. But, says the indictment, not a single person actually got any money from their – ahem – winnings.

If he’s convicted, Barrett faces prison time, a fine, and mandatory restitution to the victims of his scam. But whatever happens in court, this extradition shows how serious the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are about cracking down on people who try to defraud American consumers. That’s good news for all of us.

Meanwhile, if you get a call or email that you’ve won something, follow this advice: never send money. And report the call or email so we can help in the fight against these scammers.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

If I sent ALL the "spams" about my "winnings", the FTC would have to increase their manpower my at LEAST 1,000 % or MORE ..........

There is no such percentage as 1,000%

Yes there is

She's right there is an 1,000 percent

Finally! Now let's get after those robo-call scammers and put them all out of business!

They are the worst and I get many more of thse than by e mail

I get these type of emails daily...from winnings to people donating me money ect.ect. ect. and as soon as I write back saying I'm NOT going to send any money first or that I am forwarding their emails to the state police...the F.B.I. or ANY gov't agency I normally do NOT hear back from them

I have a request for a post. I have been getting spam emails to my work email from people we dont do business with, but from local businesses i recognize. I never open these emails, but I thought i'd spread the word about hackers that my be spreading malware this way.

I will use this in my cyber security training... great article... thanks and keep them coming! gw

I am 70 years of age, and have received numerous telephone scams saying they were from the Dept. of Defense (believe it or not), United Nations and just the US Government. I now receive numerous emails will similar requests and I just delete them.

We should see that the scammers get reported and put justice back to work into our country and keep that kind of illegal operations out once and for all.

Iam glad finally the gov did some about those laiers

Several weeks ago I was told that I had won $600,000. through Facebook. Since I use FB daily, I sent the $550. 'necessary to get my funds'. Then I was asked for $1,500. MORE, which I refused to send. I wrote down the names involved in this scam.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Unfortunately, we cannot address complaints if they are submitted through the blog comments, so please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. It's important to submit a complaint because investigators from all over the country access the FTC's complaint database.

Say good-bye to your 550 dollars, sad to say.

Oh my, I hate to tell you this: YOU WERE RIPPED OFF! I am sorry that you had to go through this but I am sure you won't do that again. I wish you luck in getting your money back.

Was the persons name James Madison? I'm dealing with this situation as well. Saying I won 470 000 and I should send 570 dollars.

Gee sounds familiar. I was ask the samething. Yes I was told I won $550,000 in a Facebook lottery pool. I have all the messages and yes I was asked to send $300.00 via money gram. I was very stupid and did it as well. Was supposed to receive the money in 24 hours of sending the $300.00 for fees. The fees. Were for insurance:$100.00 Vat:$50.00 mailing:$100.00 and a stamp:$50.00. Which equals $300.00 in fees. Ya I feel for it because it was from Facebook. I was then told the couldn't get it past the airport security officers because it was to much money and I didn't pay enough to get it past them utcwould cost me another $980.00 well yes I was very angry and told her hell no I wasn't sending them another dime. That she just kept assuring me this is no scam.this s time I didn't send them any more money. I woke up out of my dreams and realized how stupid I was for falling for something so stupid. Rather its social media or not do not send money to anyone for any winnings. Because you won't get paid its all a scam. Did I learn my lesson. Yes I did. Never again.

$50 for a stamp??
I'm sorry, but how naive can you be.

venus, please don't feel too bad about falling for this as you are one of many who have. It's not your fault there are such criminals out there. Im trying to set a person up to get caught right now depending on whether or not the FTC and other law enforcement are willing to help catch the crooks or not. I've been targeted now for the third time but so far I haven't fallen for it but at least hopefully we can catch one or more of the culprits in the act. I have a feeling they are from a country near Afghanistan from what I have found so far. Regardless the feds and other countries have the means and everything they need to catch those involved which I'm sure consists of an entire network of crooks, but they will eventually get caught. :)

thank you for your help. I do get calls and emails, I am glad you are aware of this.

report to WHOM/WHERE, please?

You can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint. The details you provide could be important if there's an investigation.

For the last several years my wife and I simply do not answer the phone when the number is not from someone that we personally know. Ninety-nine plus percent of the time calls that show on Caller ID as "Unavailable" or "Private Number" never leave a message.

I get 10 to 20 of these congratulatory notifications each week .... now the "fearless feds" announce they might finally put ONE of the offenders away (not yet determined).?! Have you guys been on vacation? This has been going on for YEARS ! Pssst, they also have a scam representing themselves as the IRS. Yawn.

I just got off the phone with "The US Government Grant Department". They are going to give me $9,000 in cash. That is the point where I ended the call.

My son just got scammed last month with the Call send money by, money gram for 250 then he called back n they wanted 800 more for taxes

I received that same call "The US Government Grant Department ". They told me I won $9000 free and that I didn't have to ever pay it back. They first told me to send $200 and in 30 mines I would receive the money..But I never did..Then they call me back and sad that the reson I did receive it, it was because I had to pay taxes of that money..Know they asked me to send $850 and I will recived all my money back including the money I won..

I wanted to share my own experience with this "scam". This happened a long time ago, approximately 6 years ..&.. although I called my local police station, they were unable or didn't care enough to do anything about it, even with the "scamers" threatened my Life. It started with a phone call telling me I had been "selected" to win $220,000.00! Only thing I had to do was pay the "taxes" of $5,000 ... and does anyone what to guess where I had to send it? Yep .. Jamaica! They're very good at convincing you this is just a "small fee" compared to your winnings. I didn't do anything the first time they called, but the calls & convincing went on. I asked them, "How do I know this isn't some scam"? He replied, "No No I would never lie to you, I'm a Christian. I go to church daily and I pray for you, for your health, (I explained I was on Disability), and that you take this Amazing offer"! So .. I did it. Stupid, I know .. Even the clerk where I was wiring the money, told me NOT to do this, she'd seen it before & I was going to lose my $5,000, she pleaded with me ..&.. I still did it! Once I returned home, as instructed, I called to give them the tracking number. That's when things got "out of control". I was told I needed to make one more payment of $5,000! ..&.. I went berserk on them! "You NEVER told me that & now I KNOW this is a scam"! They, needless to say, got very upset that I was on to them. When I mentioned I ABSOLUTELY would NOT send any more money & was going to call the police if they didn't back down .. Well .. that's when I was told that, "Someone like you, should watch out because someone may come to your house and KILL you! That did it! I called my local police, who came to my house to take a report. Because I had their phone number, the officer called them back, asked for the gentleman (?) who I had been talking with. He was told he wasn't in so the officer tried to talk to the guy who answered the phone, "What's this threat about someone coming to her house & killing her"?
CLICK ... The guy hung up immediately! The officer did identified himself as a policeman & I think they "pulled" away because they knew .. I had them! So .. What did I learn from all this ... Get yourself a smartphone and sign-up for the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), they keep you current on all on-going scams & frauds! If it happens to you .. don't be like me & bury you head out of "embarrassment! It's too late for me ... But don't let this happen to you! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't! I felt like I failed, myself & my husband. (Which, you may want to know) .. My husband divorced me after this happened .. Who wants to be married to a "gullible" woman. So ... Please, if you get a call saying you won some & you need to pay ANYTHING .. Run!
Call the FTC immediately!

I was contacted by phone from # 876-323-5510. The person asked for me by name. He stated that he was John Lewis the Director of Mega Millions and I have a winning of 2.5 million dollars since 5 months ago and he wants me to claim it today. He asked if anyone has called me about it before, I said no. He then said that he will give me a phone # 323-554-(can't remember the rest) and I should get a pen and paper to write it down. I should call this # and provide my name, address and phone#. He said it was an automated system and they will call me back to send me my check in the mail. I refused to listen to this any longer and told him that I was on to him and I know its a scam. I also told him that he should be ashamed of himself and not to do this any more. I also heard children playing in the background, so I told him to go take care of his kids and stop trying to scam people. I also told him that I am recortding this call and I will send it to the police for them to investigate and capture him.

Back in Feb of this year we were contacted by a friend saying we won the lotto on fb call them and see what it is. So we called they said we won 120k right sounds good. Need to send 750 so like a fool we did and then it was more 1500 instead of checking the friend told us to send so we did. Next thing they keep asking for more before we knew it we like the fools we were we had lost 20k the them and still no money. The agent keep giving us excuses Roy Mcmahan was his name and said he worded with Mark the boss of fb. Now here we go again my friend said to call a Peter Morris Sr and he would help a lawyer right still no good. Even the friend has put out on it said he got his no proof though. Now keeps asking for more money and even if I mention scan he threatens to stops but seems to continue. Keeps insisting to send money. Do have a number but come up unknown if he try's to call don't answer. They need to be stopped. We are retired and know this was dumb should have followed up before got this deep. Just want to pass this on.

You can help law enforcement by reporting this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. You can give details about what happened and the information will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

beware of USA Direct and Las Vegas Allure sweepstakes and promotions, same bunch and 100% bogus.

This scam is still occurring. I received a call from (646)217-4825 about claiming a $450,000 prize that I would loose if I did not respond quickly. I was given an offical sounding identification code with instructions to call a company in Nevada for approval to release prize money. I found out that the comapany name was Las Vegas Allure sweepstakes. The thing is they are asking for 1% of prize total upfront for what they say are reimbursable insurance fees.

I am getting to the point of extreme anger about receiving these computer calls ("your computer is putting out malicious signals") and the other one stating "this Heather at Credit Card Services." I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE FTC IS DOING ABOUT THIS TO STOP THESE CALLS. YESTERDAY I GOT 4 CALLS AND JUST NOW HAD ANOTHER CALL FROM CREDIT CARD SERVICES.

Not only is money from all kinds of phoney lotteries, but they got a fine scheme buy sending popups that have many things that need to be fixed on your computer. Then you received a page that looks totally professional. Its got a page from (not the real) Microsoft, with phone number and all the trimmings.So if you call the number. You will get a person from over seas. add on comming

I too have received calls saying I was selected to receive $9000; they say the call is coming from the U.S. Treasury and because I don't have any bankruptcies I am eligible. I run the gambit with the asking questions about I would get this money and they tell me all they need is my creditcard# or bank account. My response to that is are you "high?" These calls come every other day.

I sent in thousands of these so called scamming emails to the proper government agencies so they could do their thing. I still get these emails, from many different sources, including your own USA agencies, military, International Monetary Fund, USA politicians, I do not think that catching one man, who may be innocent because he may have been employed to send these things out, or to call, does he speak english with an american accent?--is this one arrest going to help decrease fraud? I sent one fraud email from the FBI stating I was to be arrested if I did not pick up my funds from the FBI office , I sent, with,the reply click, the email back to their pre-arranged address which was untouched by me. The original scam was actually sent by the fbi, so the FBI sends fraud too.

When is the FCC going to aggressively enforce existing laws (Truth in Caller ID Act) against phone number spoofing?

I have received these calls relentlessly. I got one at 7:30 a.m. and another at 10:15 p.m. Sometimes they use a "private" number. I've hung up on them, told them I was a "do not call listed number" and they still called, sometimes more than once a day. If I didn't answer the phone, I'd get another call. I started writing down all phone # they were using. I got quite a long list in just a few days. I hope you can put a stop to them. Since disconnecting my land line phone 2 weeks ago, I don't have my phone ringing all the time.

One thing I hope you all remember, that if you truly are a winner and they have the money to send, tell them to deduct the amount that they are trying to get you to send them from the winning amount. Better yet, like some of the other responses, just don't bother to answer the call, my thoughts are if you call me and do not want to identify yourself by having a private or unlisted number, then why should I answer. Be wise and careful.

In December of 2014, I received a call from this person who sounded like he was from Nigeria but had an American name. He told me my creditors wanted me to pay me $750,000 for paying my bills on time. This sounded odd to me since when do creditors pay you to do what you are supposed to do. I had to go to Walgreen's and get a green dot card and send $499.00 and then I would get the money. I new this was a scam and asked him if I sounded like I had stupid written across my forehead. I told him since it was Christmas and I was in a giving mood, he could just keep the check. He hung up immediately and I have not heard from him again.

That just happened to me, when someone called me and said, that I've won a cruised trip Jamaica, and another's called to of me I've won an Orlando trip only catch was if I'll pay them, $145 for five ppl. I knew it was an scan, thant boost mobile for giving that out that information.

I'm glad to see that I'm not alone. I have been fighting scammers for the past week. The first call was from a "Gov't" agency saying I had won some money and they wanted to get it to me as soon as possible BUT I had to wire them $900. for fees? I did that and the next day I got a call from my "local airport". The delivery people were at the nearest airport and need $1,175. to pay the state to bring my package to me AND how to wire it! I thought I shut them down. The next day I got a call from the "Justice Dept."! They knew I had been involved in a fraud situation and wanted to be sure I got my winnings. They wanted $900. and that's all. RIGHT!###. They are still calling, I just don't answer. The next thing was a piece of mail saying I was a sweepstakes winner and I should deposit the enclosed check and call them. The bank verified that the check was bogus and approached with another such scam I would lose my account. Sooooo, I guess I have learned my lesson and don't answer the phone if I don't recognize the name and/or number.

These are useful details for a complaint.  Please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaints help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies bring scam artists to justice. We can't address complaints that are submitted through the blog comments. You can also contact your state Attorney General and your local consumer protection agencies to report the scammers.

I have also received calls wanting to fix my computer. I told this idiot that I was an IT tech and I would fix my own computer. He has not called back and that has been a couple of months ago. I guess these Nigerian folks will never learn that we are catching on to them. Just don't give them any money and check their phone number out on the computer. Chances are it is a SCAM.

Has anyone else heard from a Michael Smith in southern Florida? I'm trying to work with a lady who moved down there and is caught up in the middle of one of these scams. Worse yet, she's a widow and he's playing on her heart as well.

I TOO HAVE BEEN SCAMMED BY THE 876 NUMBER A JAMAICA AREA CODE.THEY TOLD ME I HAD WON THE MEGA MILLION LOTTERY [$1.5 MILLION DOLLARS AND $850,00 US DOLLARS AND TWO CARS A BMW AND MEDAN.(WHICH AT THIS I WENT INTO CLOUD 9 ANDI FELL FOR THE SCAM)HE TOLD ME TO DO NOT HANG UP THE PHONE WHILE WE ARE DOING THE TRANSACTION.GO TO YOUR BANK AND GET $500 DOLLARS AND GO TO THE NEAREST CVS DRUGSTORE AND BUY A $500 DOLLAR GREEN PAK CARD AND CALL THE 14 DIGIT NO.TO ME AND NOT TO WORRY THE AMOUNT IT WILL BE RETURNED WHEN I ARRIVE AT YOUR HOME WITH THE COMPLETE PACKAGE AND BE SURE TO KEEP THE CARD IN A SAFE PLACE.BUT IT DIDN'T END THERE NOW I WAS INSTRUCTED TO GO GET TWO MORE CARDS ($500 +500=$1000)TO BE USED FOR TAG,TITLE AND RES FOR THE CARS.I TOLD HIM I DIDN'T HAVE ANY MORE MONEY TO TAKE IT OUT OF MY WINNINGS.HE TOLD ME THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TI DO THAT THAT IT WOULD BE AGAINST THE FEB LAW AND HE WOULD GET ARRESTED BUT,NOT TO WORRY GIVE ME A NOMINATED ACCOUNT NUMBER AND I WILL DEPOSIT A CHECK FO $1200.00 IN YOUR ACCOUNT FROM MY PERSONAL BANK BUT NOT A WORD OF THIS TO ANYONE THAT I'M DOING THIS FOR YOU AS I COULD LOSE MY JOB I JUST WANT TO GET THE PKG DELIVERED THIS AFTERNOON BY 2 PM IF POSSIBLE.AND YOU CAN DRAW OUT $1000 RIGHT AWAY WI DID AFTER CHECKING TO SEE IN IN MY ACCOUNT.(BY THE WAY I GAVE HIM MY CAPITOL ONE ACCOUNT TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE)AT HIS TIME MY BANK WOULD NOT ALLOW ME TO WITHDRAW THE AMOUNT FROM MY CAPITOL ACCOUNT YET.SO I WAS TOLD TO GO TO ANOTHER BANK (BB&T)AFTER CALLING CAPITOL ONE TO INFORM TO THEM A FRIEND HAD JUST DEPOSITED THE $1200 IN MY ACCOUNT WITH THEM.OK SO BB&T GAVE ME THE $1000 CASH FROM MY CAPITOL ONE ACCOUNT.OK NOW GO BUY TWO MORE $500+$500 MORE CARD AND CALL OUT THE 14 DIGIT NUMBERS TO ME OF NOW I NEED YOU TO TRY TO POUND ANY VALUES OR BORROW FROM A FRIEND TO COME UP WITH $7000 FOR THE TAXES FOR THE CARS,WELL THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN AT WHICH I CALLED THE SHERIFF AND MADE OUT A SCAM REPORT.OF COURSE MY CAPITOL ONE REPORTED TO ME THAT THE BANK CHECK HE USED TO DEPOSIT WAS FROM A CLOSE BANK ACCOUNT SO I LOST A TOTAL OF $1500 TO THE SPAMMER AND LEFT ME OWING CAPITOL ONE $1000.NORMALLY I DO NOT ANS THE PHONE IF I DO NOT KNOW THE NUMBER BUT I WAS OUT IN THE SUN USING MY CELL PH AND COULD SEE WHO WAS CALLING.I WAS INSTRUCTED NOT ANS OR TALK TO THE STAMMER ANY MORE.A FEW DAYS LATER I GOT A CALL FROM A FEDERAL GOV OFFICER ASSIGNED TO MY CASE TELLING TO CHANGE MY PHONE NUMBER AND TO CALL HIM BACK WITH THE NEW NUMBER WHICH I DID HE THE TELL ME THAT I DID HAVE A $1.5 MILLION WHICH BANK OF AMERICAN WAS HOLDING FOR ME BUT THAT WOULD COST ME $800 FEE FOR THEM TO HOLD THE FUNDS AND HE WOULD HAVE THEM TO SEND ME PROOF OF THE DOT.WHICH HE TOLD THEM TO FAXED TO ME ALONG WITH THE CHECK THEY WERE HOLDING AND REQUESTING THE $800 FOR THE THEM TO RELEASE THE FUNDS TO THE FED AGENT FOR HIM TO DELIVER TO ME IN PERSON.THEN HE TOLD ME HE WAS ON THE WAY AND WAS FLYING FROM THE STATE OF PORTLAND ORGAN AND HE WOULD SEE ME THE NEXT DAY HE WOULD CALL ME WHEN HE WAS READY TO BE AT MY HOME.OF COURSE I NEVER HEARD FROM HIM AGAIN. I THEN TOOK THE COPY OF THE CHECK TO THE BANK OF AMERICAN TO VERIFY THAT THE COPY WAS A FRAUD.i THINK I HAVE LEARNED A VERY VALUABLE LESSON.I ALSO HAVE ABOUT 50 LETTERS TELLING ME OF SO MANY WINNING THAT I WOULD BE ABLE TO BUY THE WHOLE WORLD.RIGHT NOW I HAVE ONE THAT TELLS ME I AM A WINNER OF AN INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY OF $915,810 US DOLLARS AND I AM TO CALL OR EMAIL TO GET THE FUNDS TO BE DELIVERED TO MY NOMINATED ACCOUNT.WHICH WILL BE DEPOSIT INTO MY ACCOUNT AND I AM TO PAY THEM 5% OF THE FUNDS AFTER IT HAS BEEN PLACED INTO MY ACCOUNT.THAT'S $45,790.50

Please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaints help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies bring scam artists to justice.

Watch out for more calls or mail with these signs of a scam: They want you to pay; they want you to wire money; they tell you to deposit a check they send you; they say they're from the government.

Your name might be on a list of people who lost money to a scammer. If somebody says they'll get your money back if you pay first, remember: that's against the law. Under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, they can't ask for, or accept, payment until seven business days after they give your money back to you. The FTC article about Refund and Recovery Scams has more.

Bridget Small... I assume you're in some manner employed at the F.T.C because of the sage advice you're offering about how not to get scammed and what to do if you find that you have been. For this reason I put it to you in hopes you'll be able to provide me an answer to the following; Last February(2014) I received by US post a check with instructions how to proceed..wire x amt. to..etc.in a mystery shopper scam attempt. Luckily I had the foresight to investigate and came to this website,quickly learning of the very well known con game. I IMMEDIATELY REPORTED the situation by filing a complaint as you suggest here. I also filed one with th e online crime reporting agency, IC3. Furthermore, I contacted the Attorney General's office for my state as well as the Postmaster General in my county. I contacted the bank on which the fraudulent check had been drawn, learning of the closed account and making the bank aware of the circumstances in their regard as well. I documented all of this information, i.e. times ,dates and with whom I spoke,with the intention of providing evidence of the crime. I have kept all the e mails I received from the suspect individual(s) and am still in posession of the offending check, other attending documents and the original USPS envelope by which I gained receipt initially. I am extremely disappointed to report that as of today, March 24,2015, that I have NOT YET heard a word from ANY of these agencies, entities or offices in this regard. NO ONE BUT ME HAS TAKEN ANY ACTION toward rectifying this wrong-doing. In my limited knowledge,as a lay-person and a novice in the law, it still seems obvious, even to me that many violations of federal legislation have already taken place though the conspiritorial crime wasn't seen to fruition, I note bank fraud, mail fraud, attempted wire fraud to be among the most apparent crimes.Crimes committed involving no fewer than five states, I might add. Is there anyone besides myself that is BOTHERED by this? I thought I was insulted by the would-be scammer! I am much more insulted by the inaction of these agents, positioned to protect and defend me from such that have done NOTHING. I never even recived acknowledgement. DO YOU THINK MAYBE THE SCAMMERS CONTINUE BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY NEED'NT WORRY ABOUT REPERCUSSIONS???? things that make you go,HMMMM....??? Just asking.

Pages

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

Read Our Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.