Essex Trading Standards issues warning over Jamaican lottery scam

PUBLISHED: 09:21 03 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:29 30 May 2010

ESSEX County Council s Trading Standards is warning the public to be on their guard against a new Jamaican-based lottery scam which has already seen some UK residents lose thousands of pounds. Fraudulent telemarketers based in Jamaica are making unsolicit

ESSEX County Council's Trading Standards is warning the public to be on their guard against a new Jamaican-based lottery scam which has already seen some UK residents lose thousands of pounds.

Fraudulent telemarketers based in Jamaica are making unsolicited phonecalls to consumers telling them they have won a sum of up to £2.5 million in a lottery or sweepstake. The fraudsters often pretend to be lawyers, bank officials, customs officers or lottery representatives to try and convince consumers that their prize is genuine.

However, to 'release' their winnings, victims are told they must send money to pay for taxes, processing fees, insurance or customs duties. Victims receive repeated calls for further money, and in some cases have been threatened if they do not pay up.

The fraudsters have pressurised some elderly victims into sending them their entire life savings. The victim's money ends up in the hands of organised gangs and helps to fund other serious crime in Jamaica.

Cllr Tracey Chapman, Cabinet Member with responsibilty for Community Safety comments: "We have been made aware that Jamaican-based lottery fraud, is now beginning to emerge as a problem in the UK. What is despicable is that some victims have been threatened with violence to coerce them into handing over their life savings.

"Residents should remember that a genuine lottery would never ask someone to pay taxes, insurance or any other fee before receiving their 'winnings'. We would recommend, should residents receive a phonecall of this nature that they report it to the Consumer Direct helpline."

People needing advice on how to avoid scams can visit the Consumer Direct website at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk or call the helpline on 08454 04 05 06.

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