Don’t miss special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on an episode of “American Greed,” July 14 at 10 pm. ET on CNBC as they tackle cross-border telemarketing fraud threatening U.S. citizens.
The show features the agency’s efforts to bring down a Jamaican lottery scam, in which perpetrators call U.S. citizens and inform them that they have won the lottery. Through this deception, the perpetrators attempt to convince the victims — most often the elderly — that they must first pay a fee in order to receive their winnings. The scams are run by Jamaican criminal organizations that direct their ill-gotten gains back to the island for their own use.
ICE and other U.S. agencies partnered with the Jamaica Constabulary Force to create Project JOLT (Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing) in 2009 to combat this issue. Project JOLT focuses on identifying, investigating and prosecuting telemarketing scammers. When possible, JOLT recovers funds from the scammers and repatriates them to the victims.
The efforts of Project JOLT have been met with large success. In its first three years, more than $1.13 million in assets were seized and more than 120 arrests made. Most recently, six people in Philadelphia were charged for a Jamaican lottery scam in which individuals stole upwards of $200,000 from senior citizens.