Florida Man Arrested For Collecting Payments For Jamaican Lottery Scammers

Image courtesy of David Goehring

Operators of some overseas scams will use American middle-men to collect money from victims before sending it on to the scammers. Federal prosecutors have accused one Florida man of being the cash conduit for a “lottery” scam being run out of Jamaica.

We’ve covered Jamaican lottery scams before. They’re a form of fraud that exploits our innate greed, where callers tell victims that they’ve won millions of dollars in a lottery that they never entered, but must wire money to cover taxes or fees. Lottery scammers return to the same victims to collect more money, stringing them along for as long as possible, promising that the payout will come.

To state the obvious, however, there is no lottery. There’s just a large pool of people in Jamaica trained to work in call centers servicing the United States and Canada who figured out that scamming people was much more lucrative than collecting an hourly wage.

In an indictment [PDF], the feds describe how the Florida accomplice collected payments ranging from a wire transfer of $150 to a cashier’s check sent to him through the mail for $12,500. Prosecutors say that he would keep a portion of the payments and send the rest on to his accomplices in Jamaica.

It’s a tragically popular scam: In 2015, around the time that the defendant in this case was allegedly receiving payments and sending them on to Jamaica, American victims were sending $300 million in fake lottery taxes and fees to that country every year.

“These charges demonstrate our commitment to combating international lottery fraud, especially efforts to target potentially vulnerable individuals” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the JusticeDepartment’s Civil Division said in a statement. “Financial schemes like these interfere with Americans’ financial security and will not be tolerated.” Lottery scams target elderly Americans, who are often ashamed to tell their family members what has happened.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.