Elderly Nebraskans target of ‘Jamaican lottery scam’

elderly scams nebraskaIt’s been all over the news recently, and federal officials are confirming that scammers based out of Jamaica are targeting seniors in the U.S., stealing upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. To put it in perspective, complaints about the scam to the Federal Trade Commission spiked from 1,867 in 2007 to 29,220 in 2012, with federal officials saying far more cases are likely never known about, reported CBS News.

The scam works like this:

  • Scammers obtain lists of elderly Americans’ names and numbers.
  • Scammers call seniors on the list telling them they’ve won money from an American sweepstakes company.
  • Scammers then tell seniors that, in order to get the prize, a fee is required (for processing, taxes, etc.).

According to CBS News, victims are apparently falling for the ruse because scammers know exactly what to say and are extremely aggressive.

“They will call 50 times a day, 300 times a week, until you give in,” AARP’s Doug Shadel told CBS. “And the thing that’s most worrisome to me, is these are the most vulnerable people we have. They’re 75- to 80-year-old seniors who are scared to death by these guys.”

Elderly Nebraskans are among those at risk, as Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning issued a warning about lottery scams targeting seniors earlier this week. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that Bruning’s Consumer Protection Division received more than 450 calls and complaints about fake lottery letters targeting Nebraskans in the first quarter of 2013.

The scam, which unfolds just like the one outlined above, asks for fees or taxes to be wired or sent as pre-paid charge cards in order for the victim to claim any prize money.

Unfortunately, once the money is sent, it’s nearly impossible to recover, Bruning told the Journal Star.

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