15 Scams to watch out for – Fake Lottery

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Fake Lottery — Much of this type of telemarketing fraud originates in Jamaica. The USPIS has been working with Jamaica’s legislators and law enforcement in a program called Project “JOLT” for Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing. The Project JOLT collaboration has disrupted and shut down several of the telemarketing operations, which funnel money to Jamaican gangs and help finance drug and weapons smuggling.In a typical example, a caller will tell victims they have won a multimillion dollar international lottery or sweepstakes, but they first must send money to cover fake “fees” or “taxes” before they can collect their winnings.

Victims are instructed to send cash by mail, stashed in a magazine or book to conceal the money. Unfortunately, the would-be lotteries and sweepstakes are fake, and the money disappears into the hands of Jamaican gangs.The USPIS says money is then routed through a network of other victims here in the United States before it finally leaves the country. Typically it is mailed via Priority Mail Express, the post office’s fastest service, with the criminals’ goal of leaving investigators the shortest possible amount of time to intercept the money.The Better Business Bureau and the USPIS are working together to get the word out to consumers, to protect themselves from this sort of telemarketing fraud:You cannot win if you didn’t enter – Regardless of what a caller says, you cannot win a sweepstakes or lottery you didn’t enter. In addition, consumers should be wary of communications claiming you inherited money, but have to pay “fees” to collect.

It’s easy to spot a prominent red flag – Whether it is a lottery or any other person-to-person transaction, beware of demands to pay by an untraceable method such as a wire transfer or gift cards, and never send cash through the mail.Screen all incoming calls – Get a non-published telephone number and install an answering machine with a caller ID display. Pick up only if you personally know the caller. Otherwise, let the call roll to the answering machine. Teach everyone in your household to do the same.

Limit personal information that you share online – Today more than ever, people share large amounts of personal information on social media. Details about family, professional lives and schedules help scammers effectively target victims. Scammers have practiced the same lines over and over again. They know just what to say to make their victims trust them. They are solicitous, courteous, and even flirtatious.Just hang up – These criminals don’t hesitate to threaten, coerce, or resort to psychological intimidation. They use technology to look at images of the victim’s house or apartment. Armed with these details, the scammer will describe a victim’s house or building with great accuracy. It’s all part of the scam. The criminal wants the victim to think he is just outside, and ready to follow up on any threats he’s made.Improve your odds – Older Americans are often targeted by these scammers. Take the time to speak with your loved ones about foreign lotteries. A simple conversation could protect their financial well-being.

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