ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Earlier in 2012, News 4’s Chris Nagus warned people about some Jamaican swindlers who were targeting trusting St. Louisans.
Since the story aired, Chris Nagus learned about an Illinois woman who has sent these bad guys more than $20,000 thinking she won the lottery. He also discovered these Jamaicans are still up to the same tricks, leading a Florissant, MO man to pull out some tricks of his own.
Ed Heinkel knew the phone call from the 876 area code was too good to be true.
“He said I won 2.9 million dollars” Ed told News 4.
But Ed didn't hang up the phone, instead he engaged the caller, a guy who said his name was Sean.
“This Sean McGuire and his accent is about as Irish as I am and I’m an American Indian” said Ed.
Heinkel was the target of the Jamaican lottery scam. It is a growing problem originating on the small island nation. Scammers fight over sucker lists lined with potential victims, but Ed is no sucker.
He told News 4, “I said in other words you want my visa card number and I said no way you are going to get that”.
The Jamaican group wanted Ed to pay several thousands of dollars for customs fees so he could collect his bogus prize. But Ed is not the only one getting the calls.
Sherry Margrabe also lives in Florissant; she doesn't answer calls from the 876 area code. She gets the calls “quite frequently” and she knows it's a scam.
Jamaican authorities are promising to extradite these con artists to the United States if they are caught. Authorities estimate this scam costs unsuspecting Americans 3 hundred million dollars per year.
Ed tells us no matter how many times they call, he won’t fall for the scam, “ I said Sean here's the way it's gonna be, you send me that check and seeing as it's coming out of my million when I get verification that it has come out of your bank then I will send you the 3894 dollars.
This can be a very serious situation for some families. An Illinois family told me their mother was duped, and wouldn't believe them. Each day the scammers would call and say they were trying to hand deliver her check, but their car kept breaking down, and they needed money for repairs.
It was a never ending nightmare.