Yesterday, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Specialist was contacted by a neighborhood watch member regarding telephone fraud. She had just received a phone call from someone who announced she had won a 2.5 million dollar lottery prize. The suspect requested, and was allowed to send her documents by email containing instructions on claiming the prize. The suspect promised a follow-up phone call soon after to complete the arrangements. The victim quickly received an email with two letters attached, one with an IRS letterhead and the other purportedly from Bank of America. In the correspondence, the "winner" was required to pay an insurance fee of $559.00 plus a processing fee of $250.00 before she could access the 2.5 million dollars in winnings.
The victim recalled recent crime prevention and media notices about this scam and soon realized she was now a target. When the suspect called back, she took specific notice of his accent and got him to admit he was based in Jamaica. When he asked her if she was ready to wire the required fees, she replied, "My crime prevention officer told me this lottery notice is a fraud and I want nothing to do with you." After hanging up on the suspect, she contacted the YCSO Crime Prevention Specialist to report the incident and forwarded the associated documents at his request.
The victim was complimented on her recall of this fraud scenario and her use of this knowledge to avoid becoming another statistic. Remember, in any legitimate sweepstakes winning, you are NEVER required to pay ANY upfront costs. Additionally, if you review the documents closely, they contain numerous grammar and spelling errors and are obviously fraudulent. With the aid of computers, it is easy to download legitimate business graphics to dress up a document in an attempt to make it appear authentic.
Most of these scams target seniors and rely on their trust not to verify the information and assume the credibility of the documents. It has been common to find many suspects in these scams are based in Jamaica. Please share information about this scam with those in your family or care that could be targeted by US mail, phone, or email.
Be wise to the disguise.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov