Scammers now threatening victims

Published On: Mar 19 2013 09:51:03 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 20 2013 07:20:00 AM EDT

A foreign lottery scheme has a terrifying new twist.  And this scam may actually pose a danger.

While Jamaica has beautiful beaches and tropical weather, United States Postal Inspectors say the island is also home base for a foreign lottery scam, involving con men who are now threatening their victims.

“The individuals who are actually perpetrating these schemes are incredibly violent individuals and extremely aggressive,” said Antonio Gomez, a U.S. postal inspector.

Inspectors say this is a troubling new trend.  Typically, con men involved in lottery schemes call their victims, tell them they've won a prize and then try to convince them to pay a tax or fee to collect their winnings.  But the Jamaican ringleaders don't stop there.

“If there is any kind of push back from the victims, they are incredibly aggressive,” said Gomez.

With new technology like Google Earth, the con artists are able to see a satellite photo of their victim's home up close, and then use that information to threaten them. 

“I see you live at 1234 Main Street and I see your red door with the blue bird on it and if you don’t send us the money, we will have someone deal with you personally,” said Gomez.

Because of this, Postal Inspectors are stepping up efforts to combat this new crime gang and protect U.S. citizens. 

“We currently are working with the Department of Justice and extraditing individuals from Jamaica to US to face federal charges,” said Gomez.  “There is no foreign lottery-- not out of Jamaica, not out of Costa Rica, not out of Spain, not out of anywhere else.”

Ignore all mail and phone solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. If you receive what looks like lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local Postmaster.

If you believe you've responded to a scam, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and Florida's State Attorney General.

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