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Lottery scammers impersonating FBI agents, says US professor

Published:Tuesday | November 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM

A United States professor who chairs business and financial journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism is reporting that a new trend is developing in lottery scamming in Jamaica.

Professor Martha Steffens said yesterday that the scammers have been presenting themselves as Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and officials of the Financial Crimes Enforcement network as they seek new ways to exploit their victims.

Steffens told a PAJ-hosted financial forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew that the new move is aimed at preventing detection since the clampdown on traditional approaches such as forcing their victims to wire money to them.

According to Steffens, scammers will call victims, telling them they have won the lottery.

She said in cases where the potential victim hangs up, the scammers call back pretending to be FBI agents following up on the attempts to con them.

She said the scammers are also aware of the measures put in place by money-transfer companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram in an effort to clamp down on the lottery scam.

Prepaid Debit Cards

As a result, Steffens said the scammers are now using prepaid debit cards so victims can send the money to them directly.

Steffens also said the lottery scammers are also setting up accounts in Latin American and Caribbean tax havens such as Panama.

Meanwhile, the professor said Interpol has set up a coalition to handle the lottery scam. She said victims are encouraged to step up and report the crimes.

However, she added that many of the victims are hesitant to come forward as they have been threatened. Others are embarrassed about falling for the scam.