“You’ve won millions!” That’s the bait from the latest Jamaican lottery scam. The caller tells the “winner” all he needs to do is pay a few thousand dollars in taxes and fees then the Mega Millions Jackpot is his to keep. The problem is, once the victim pays up, the caller will take the money and run.
Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns the public to beware of calls from area code 876. The caller often claims to be a lottery official from Jamaica and explains the only way the “winner” can collect is to first pay taxes via a prepaid debit card. The scammer then asks for the card information and pin and drains the account before disappearing.
The Jamaican lottery scam has already cost consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars, sparking alerts from both the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Some victims even report being threatened with physical harm if they don’t agree to pay the fees.
Homer, an 80-year-old resident of Vancouver, Wash., said he almost became a victim of a similar scam from a European sweepstakes that offered him thousands of dollars, but he was sharp enough to not fall for it. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” he said. Homer is available for interviews with local media.
In the Pacific Northwest this year, BBB has received 74 complaints of lottery and sweepstakes scams. BBB reminds consumers to follow four important steps in order to avoid falling victim.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.