Hey Mon, you're about to get ripped off

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Preying on the widely held dream that someday the lottery will pay all the bills and fuel a hundred fantasies, a new collection of frauds have set up shop in a place better known for vacations than scam. Their goal is to take -- not give -- money.

The Federal Trade Commission and U.S. immigration officials are working with the Jamaican Constabulary Force to bust up telemarketing rings bent on taking cash from duped Americans.
The FTC put out the word that its partnering with Jamaican law enforcement since these cross-border schemes tend to fall into a big hole and getting cooperation from a foreign government is a big deal.

The calls come from people pretending to be lawyers, customs officials or lottery representatives. The inducement is the idea that the target has already won a vacation, a car or a truckload of money. To claim your winnings -- surprise -- all you have to do is pay shipping or insurance charges and/or taxes or fees.

That's where this fairytale of winning turns into the nightmare of losing. That fee is the only transaction that will happen. You lose. They win.

It gets better. As is often the case when someone falls for a scam or clever marketing ploy, your name and contact information also get sold on a so-called sucker's list of people susceptible to these types of come-ons.

Here are some don'ts to keep in mind:
  • Don't give someone your personal financial information over the phone to claim "winnings."
  • Don't believe you can win a contest you never entered.
  • Don't believe everything you see on your Caller ID. Criminals can be very sophisticated.
  • Don't hesitate to file a complaint with the FTC if you get one of these calls.
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