10/25/11 Jamaican sweepstake scams are targeting seniors locally and across the US. While the Indiana State Police work dozens of such cases each year it is suspected that hundreds go unreported. The FBI estimates that US citizens send millions to Jamaica alone through such lottery scams every year.
State Police Detective Brooks Johnson said that he sees scams like this all the time and that they tend to occur more frequently with the elderly. Johnson said the scammers build a relationship with the seniors making it harder for them to refuse to believe they’re being scammed. Johnson added that in a recent case the victim eventually lost an estimated $15,000.
Often the lottery scam starts with a phone call or an email asking you to send money up front to pay for taxes and government fees for a lottery that you won. Thousands of people fall victim to this scam every year and never see anything in return other than a shrinking bank account. Most recently law enforcement has seen the Jamaican scammers take it a step further and funnel funds from the social security accounts of the elderly. This is often done after the unsuspecting seniors are befriended and provide critical personal information that is used to setup a new direct deposit account that is attached to their social security check.
As a reminder don’t ever give anyone your bank or personal information. The best thing to do is get involved and get to know your elderly loved ones’ finances. Tell them that they can come to you with any questions or concerns, especially if someone starts asking for money.