Jamaican lotto scam bilking Maine seniors out of thousands
York County, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - It's a family's nightmare. Watching a parent work hard all their life only to see the money they set aside for retirement disappear within months.
In Maine senior citizens are being taken for hundreds of thousands of dollars by con artists in Jamaica. The crooks tell the seniors they've won huge lottery jackpots, but in the end it's the scammers who are getting rich and their victims are being left broke.
After working hard for years in a shoe factory and as a waitress Bea Boucher was living comfortably in her retirement. But now at 82-years old things aren't so comfortable.
"So he says you won 2 and a half million..... and a car. I said that must be a scam and he says no it isn't", she said.
Bea's initial reaction was right. It was a scam. But the man from Jaimaica on the other end of the phone was convincing and charming.
Before long he had Bea rushing up to Wal Mart and to the local Western Union shop where she would send him thousands of dollars for the fees and taxes associated with her winnings.
Bea started imagining what it would be like the day she got those winnings. Someone would arrive here at her home with balloons and a large cardboard check, just like on TV. Then the car would arrive with a bow on it.
Days turned to weeks and weeks to months, with no sign of the check or the car. Finally reality set in.
"I really believed it. And now I'm mad at myself, but there's nothing I can do. It's done", she said.
There was no jackpot, no car. The realization actually made Bea sick. She ended up at Southern Maine Medical Center, depressed and physically ill.
"I was crying all the time. Now I'm a little better, but it still hurts.... I think about it", she said.
Investigators with the York County Sheriff's Department spent months tracking down leads and gathering evidence in Bea's case. They finally convinced a federal task force based in North Carolina to take it on. Despite that it's unlikely Bea will get a penny of her money back.
When it was all said and done, she was taken for more than 100-thousand dollars.