Jul 26, 2019
A woman in a Texas suburb is enjoying her retirement years with her husband when she gets a call that will change their lives. According to the voice on the phone, she’s won an overseas lottery. Millions of dollars and a new luxury car will be delivered to her front door. But before she can collect the cash and other prizes, she must send money to the man on the phone. At first, she’s told she needs to pay taxes, then lawyers’ fees. As the demands to send cash mount, her bank account is drained. Nine months later, the couple has lost everything and is forced to sell their home.
Lottery scams are on the rise in the U.S., with more than a half-million complaints in North America in the past three years. The island nation of Jamaica is a hotbed for this criminal activity. These scams have cost Americans millions of dollars and led to increased gang warfare in Jamaica that has upped the murder rate there. To combat this growing issue, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, along with other U.S. agencies, are dedicating resources to shut down lottery scams. One postal inspector came across a scammer’s financial trail that led back to the Texas couple who’d been drawn in by a lottery scam. When the inspector arrived in Texas, he couldn’t believe what he found: Not only had the scammer drained the couple’s savings, but he was now operating a romance scam — with the woman as his target.