A consumer from Corpus Christi recently forwarded your BBB a “winning lottery” letter and check that were part of an obvious scam attempt. The lottery scam (often referred to as the Jamaican Lottery Scam) is all too common, and it commonly targets seniors.
The scammer sends an official-sounding letter telling the potential victim how much he or she has won, along with a check to help cover taxes or other fees. The victim is supposed to deposit the check and wire most of it to the scammer.
Problem is, the check is counterfeit. When the bank finds that out, the victim is on the hook for the full amount. And of course the prize money from the contest the victim never entered never arrives.
I’ve seen this quite a few times, so I was happy to see an alleged lottery scammer face justice.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that a Florida court had sentenced a Jamaican citizen in connection with a lottery scam based in Jamaica. Oneike Mickhale Barnett was ordered to serve 60 months in prison, with five years of probation. The court also ordered him to pay $94,456 in restitution.
Barnett pleaded guilty on Feb. 28, 2014 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. From 2008 through 2012, elderly victims were informed that they had won a large amount of money in a lottery and were convinced to pay bogus advance fees. The scammers posed as employees of a genuine sweepstakes company, as well as federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve.