Friday, December 6, 2013
Authorities in Maine and Mississippi joined forces to investigate and apprehend a Jamaican man who allegedly bilked a Bath woman out of a large sum of money.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi Attorney General's Office
Members of the Mississippi Attorney General’s consumer protection division arrested Damion Aljunior Hill, 33, outside his home in Gulfport, Miss., on June 12. He is charged with two counts of wire fraud for allegedly stealing money from the woman in Bath and another person in Nebraska.
The so-called Jamaican lottery scam typically entails telling a person they have won a lottery and all they need do to collect their prize is pay taxes, or some similar arrangement. There is no lottery and regardless of how many times a person pays, the perpetrators continue calling, demanding more money.
The scam often targets senior citizens.
The scam was the subject of hearings held in Washington in March by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, of which Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is the ranking Republican. Jamaican officials said in April that they would begin extraditing Jamaicans who are charged in the scam to the United States for prosecution.
In the two cases that lead to wire fraud charges against Hill, the victims received many calls daily and were promised large cash prizes, jewelry and cars. Mississippi authorities would not divulge how much was stolen. The money was sent back to Jamaica using Green Dot MoneyPak debit cards.
Detective Peter Lizanecz, an investigator with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, learned the identity of a person in Mississippi who was removing money from the Bath resident’s bank account and then wiring portions of it to Jamaica.
The case originated with the Bath Police Department.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Maine Attorney General Janet Mills in a press release. “Always be skeptical when someone calls you offering free goods or services in exchange for your personal data. No legitimate company will offer you a free product in exchange for an upfront payment.”
Hill was in the United States on a work visa. His bond is set at $125,000 on each count, according to a release by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
“These types of scams almost always cross national borders,” Hood said. “Typically, the defendant is overseas too, which usually makes these cases difficult to prosecute.”
Mainers who want to check on the legitimacy of a telephone solicitation can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-436-2131 or email: consumer.mediation@Maine.gov.