The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is alerting Acadiana residents to variations of the Jamaican Phone Scam, which has been operating in south Louisiana for several months.
In the original scam, originating from the 876 area code in Jamaica, callers falsely inform residents that they won millions of dollars, a new Mercedes Benz or other high-priced vehicle and, at times, a new high-definition TV.
These scammers also claim to be affiliated with Publishers Clearinghouse, UPS or a government agency at times and informed residents they needed to send hundreds of dollars via a Green Dot Money Card or Western Union.
In the new twist of the scam, Jamaicans call residents claiming to be able to assist with loans and credit repair.
To further the scam, the scammers claim to have loan company websites, which often to not exist, and also say the fictional businesses are located within the continental U.S.
The Jamaican scammers tell consumers that in order to secure the loan, they must make up to three months payments in advance. But once the payments are made, loans are never issued to the customers.
The scammers also ask for banking information such as account and routing numbers to deposit the loan funds, which do not exist.
This opens residents to identity theft, as the Jamaicans can remove money from bank accounts without authorization.
During the call, the scammers, who often speak with foreign accents, tell the residents that they won the prizes or were approved for the loans, then tell them they need to send money by either Western Union or a cash card in order to collect their winnings or bank loan.
The BBB reminds everyone that it is illegal for foreign lotteries or sweepstakes to operate within the U.S. and it is also illegal for U.S. citizens to participate in these sweepstakes or lotteries.
The bank loan scam is also illegal, but also outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement, as they are operating from foreign soil.
BBB offers the following advice to avoid being taken by these scams:
The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.