Thursday, July 27, 2017

"The Jamaican lottery scam, and others like it around the world, show no signs of stopping"

Globalization has connected economies across the world, but it has also benefitted criminals that borrow and adapt the techniques used by outsourced industries like telemarketing. The Jamaican lottery scam that ensnared Schmeets is just one example. Indian call center operators posing as IRS agents were recently busted for fleecing 15,000 Americans out of more than $300 million. Altogether, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 1 million complaints about fake debt collectors and imposters last year.

Jamaicans specialize in the lottery scam. Here’s how it works: Fraudsters trick victims into paying taxes and fees they say are needed to claim a nonexistent jackpot. The scammers work in teams, using internet calling services to mimic familiar U.S. area codes, and they may pose as the IRS, the Nevada Gaming Commission, or the Federal Reserve, in addition to the FBI. The targets tend to be retirees over 80 who live alone.

It’s impossible to say exactly how much money is lost to the lottery scam. Official guesses have ranged from $120 million a year to as much as $1 billion, according to one estimate cited by the Justice Department. That means it could be nearly half as much Jamaica’s tourism industry, which is worth about $2 billion annually.


gangs that once fought for control of the drug trade now kill each other for access to lead lists, which include names and phone numbers for would-be victims