A complaint from a local elderly couple scammed out of thousands of dollars in what is known as a Jamaican lottery scam, began the investigation that landed Joanne Karene McCrary, 74, of Calhoun, Ga., in jail for money laundering.
McCrary was arrested last week in Georgia by Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department detectives. McCrary is charged with felony counts of money laundering and two counts of felony theft.
Jamaican lottery scams, according to KSCD detectives, are well established cons that prey on victims by informing them they have won either an international lottery or sweepstakes. The fraudsters advise the victim(s) that in order to receive their winnings, they have to pay certain advance fees such as insurance, customs duties or taxes.
The Kosciusko County couple had also discovered that their Social Security checks had been diverted to a location in Georgia. KCSD detectives followed the money trail to McCrary, who was allegedly illegally transferring the stolen funds and mailing them in turn to Jamaica in the form of bank cards.
Detectives found that McCrary herself had previously fallen victim of the scam and lost tens of thousands of dollars. She allegedly then started working as a “mule” for the Jamaican criminals.
KCSD officers are currently working with officials from both U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to locate other potential victims. I.C.E. is also working with Jamaican officials on Project J.O.L.T. (Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing), which is a task force that is concentrated on combating Jamaican based telemarketing scams.
As always, Kosciusko County detectives and federal officials warn citizens to be cognitive of constant telemarketing scams and to pay particular attention to anyone using an 876 area code as those are often correlated with Jamaican scam artists.
The Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office also assisted in the investigation.