The Jamaican Lottery Scam: Like the Nigerians, but Over the Phone and Kinda Scary?

The classic Nigerian phishing scam operates on the principal that if you email a far-fetched story about an West African prince in dire need of a place to stash millions of dollars to enough people, some poor schmuck will be gullible enough to wire some money. It's not that the scammers are too lazy to craft a more believable story; it's that they're trying to sift out the vast majority of people with common sense or Internet savvy to dismiss their story as bullshit.

The emerging Jamaican Lottery Scam operates on an even simpler principle, which is demonstrated through the recent case of 74-year-old Lake Highlands resident James Bennett.

About a month ago, Bennett got a call from an unknown man with a Jamaican accent who told him he had won the lottery, plus a new car. He could receive both as soon as he paid $5,000 in taxes, which he could send via MoneyGram, which isn't the IRS' preferred method of collection but will do in a pinch.

Bennett, smelling a scam, told the man not to call again and hung up the phone.

That's where things stood until just after 10 p.m. Sunday night when Bennett's phone rang again. It was the man with the Jamaican accent again. This time, he said he'd come to Dallas to deliver the car and prize money in person but that he still needed the tax payment. By now, the bill had miraculously shrunk to $150, still payable by MoneyGram.

Bennett refused once again, prompting the caller to deploy the Jamaican Lottery Scam's signature psychological twist: "I know where you live," the man told Bennett. "I'm going to blow your fucking head off."

As you can tell, the Jamaican scam is more direct than its Nigerian cousin, with a threat of physical violence to provide that extra little bit of motivation. Unfortunately for the scammers, their tactics might need further refinement. Bennett called Dallas police, who referred the case to their financial crimes unit.

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