Jamaican Lottery Phone Scam: 5 Must-Know Tips to Avoid Being Scammed
Every year, thousands of Americans pick up the phone and hear incredible news. They're told they've beaten the odds and won millions of dollars in the Jamaican lottery.
After paying an upfront tax or administrative fee to release the funds, they eagerly wait for their prize money to come through.
But it never will. They've fallen victim to the Jamaican lottery phone scam.
Operating since the 1990s, Jamaican schemers use this fake lottery ploy to rob Americans of an estimated $300 million every year. Highly trained in customer service, they're persuasive and persistent. And they target the vulnerable, typically seniors suffering from dementia or loneliness.
In some cases, their abuse goes beyond a single fraudulent payment. Phony callers will follow up with additional requests for money transfers. And may become hostile - threatening legal action or violence - to get them.
To protect yourself and your loved ones, read and share these 5 tips to detect a Jamaican lottery phone scam.
1. Caller uses a foreign number
The first red flag in a phone scam is an unknown, foreign number. Jamaican scammers have been traced to the 876 area code in particular.
However, fraudulent callers can spoof other numbers to fool caller ID. So note that regardless of the source, it's illegal to play any foreign lottery from the US.
2. You haven't entered the contest
Don't believe any caller offering winnings from a contest you did not directly enter.
It's impossible to win one you haven't entered and - despite crooks' claims - your friends, family or place of work can't enter you, either.
3. Caller asks for advanced fees
The trademark of Jamaican lottery phone scams is requests for upfront fees to claim your prize. Do not disclose any financial information to unknown callers, who can use this information to access your accounts and withdraw funds.
Legitimate lottery operations deduct owed taxes or fees from your winnings - and would never ask you for any form of advanced payment.
4. You hear from caller repeatedly
To convince callers they';re legitimate, scammers often call repeatedly and leave voicemail reminders.
They may even involve your friends or family in unwittingly following up with you about their bogus offer, accessing your personal information from the internet.
5. Caller tells you not to tell others
A scammer may tell you not to share the news of your alleged winnings, claiming it's to protect you until you've safely secured the alleged prize money. Or so that your friends and family don't become jealous.
This helps them prevent detection - particularly from elderly victims' family members who might otherwise intervene.
Protect yourself and others from the Jamaican lottery phone scam
If you suspect you or a loved one has been targeted by a Jamaican lottery scam caller, report the occurrence immediately to the FTC and your state's Attorney General.
In addition, help warn others by downloading our iPhone caller ID app. If you don't have an iPhone, then first run a reverse phone lookup on the scammer's number here on our website, and then report it so other visitors know to avoid this number.