Elderly US couple fleeced

Prey to Ja lottery scam

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Faced with the stunning realisation that her ageing parents had been conned out of their US$300,000 (approximately J$26.7 million) life savings by Jamaican lottery-scam artists, a South Florida nurse is now in shock and distress.

“They really conned my mom,” said the nurse, whose 84-year-old father and 73-year-old mother live in the state of Illinois.

“I found out about it in the second week of March, but it had been going on since the end of December 2008.”

According to the nurse, in just over one year since her parents fell prey to the Jamaican scammers – who used the trademark ruse that they had won a Jamaican lottery and needed to pay a processing fee – the savings they had accumulated have all but disappeared.

“When I found out, I filed a complaint with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) in Illinois and Attorney General’s Office to help me get back the money that was sent through Western Union and MoneyGram,” said the nurse, who has been unsuccessful in her bid to get the money returned.

Jamaican law enforcement has confirmed the case, but asked that the nurse’s identity not be revealed as it is an ongoing investigation.

Fearful that the scammers will continue to target her parents, she said she has acquired the services of an attorney and is now seeking to get temporary guardianship of her parents, which would give her control over the remainder of their savings.

“I live in Florida and it’s really been hard for me since I am now alone in this mess and not sure what else to do,” the distraught nurse told The Gleaner. “I wish the law, whether here in the United States or Jamaica, had a way of catching up with these cheats.”

As a result of her intervention through the court, her parents’ bank accounts have been frozen, making it temporarily off-limits to the scammers. However, she is worried that the scammers might now try to scare them with threats.

The dilemma that has befallen the nurse’s ageing parents mirrors many similar situations involving other US citizens, who have been fleeced by Jamaican scammers. Last year, Assistant Commissioner of Police Denver Frater told The Gleaner that some of the monies generated were fuelling criminal activities.

“If you look at the calibre weapons that are recovered by the police, the number of rounds, ammunition being expended and recovered at crime-scene investigations point to the lottery scam,” Frater said. “It is clear that billions of dollars are in circulation, coming from this scheme.”