Jamaican Lottery Scam on rise in ENC - WSPA.com

Jamaican Lottery Scam on rise in ENC

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Would you give your life savings to someone you never met? Law enforcement says that's exactly what tens of thousands of people are doing all over the country, including people right here in the east.

They're paying what they think are taxes to collect Jamaican lottery money. But that lottery doesn't exist. The money goes to international scam artists.

9 on your side's Kristen Hunter talked with a woman who has been getting calls non-stop. Sometimes three or four times a day. Fortunately, she realized what was going on and did not send any money.

Although she didn't want to be identified for safety reasons, she shared her story so the same thing doesn't happen to others.

"They don't say anything. Or it's somebody doing a prank call on you, telling you you've won something. When are you going to be home? They'd like to deliver the prize," she said.

Now, she isn't just hanging up, she's fed up. And she's not the only one. We did some Internet research and found hundreds of complaints about the same numbers, including people in Eastern North Carolina.

"There's been an influx and the most concerning thing is that people are losing their life savings," says Pitt County Detective, Captain Paula Dance.

Dance says the scammers mostly target senior citizens.

"When you bite that bait and you send the 3-thousand dollars. You'll start to notice, people are getting more phone calls," Dance said.

But how are these scammers getting away with it? Pitt County Sheriff, Neil Elks, was able to track one of the callers down.

"Where's the sheriff now?" asked the caller.

"You're actually talking to him now," the Sheriff said.

"Oh shut your trap..."

"Why don't you watch the local news here, I'm recording you," said Elks.

"And if it's recorded what's going to happen?" asked the caller.

"Everybody is going to know your scam and who you are," said Elks.

But because most of the calls are coming from Jamaica, there's not much local law enforcement can do.

Former CBS News Anchor, Dan Rather, recently featured the "Jamaican Lottery Scammers" on access television. He found many former drug cartel have shifted into the world of tele-fraud. Law enforcement isn't cracking down on the problem there.

So what do you do if you get these calls?

  • Most importantly don't send money.
  • Hang up.
  • Don't give out personal information.
  • Report the calls to local law enforcement and the Attorney General's office.
  • If all else fails, detectives say you may have to change your number.

A message for the scammers this time around: you picked the wrong lady to mess with.

"I'm not going to stop. I'm going to keep on trying to solve it," she said.

And she'd like to keep it that way.

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