The United States Embassy has described the lottery scam in Jamaica as so organized that it is bigger than the drug trade.

The statement effectively becomes the latest warning about Jamaica issued online by the Embassy.

“The lottery scam in Jamaica has morphed into an organaised crime wave bigger than drugs,” stated a tweet this month by the US Embassy with a link to a CNN story about an 81-year-old Tennessee native committing suicide after he was bilked out of thousands of United States dollars by Jamaican lottery scammers.

The scam is wreaking havoc in both countries. Hundreds of senior citizens have lost life savings to the scam in the US while, in Jamaica, the scam has led to a wave of  murders in Western Jamaica.


The Embassy’s website offers a dedicated page to scams in Jamaica. It describes the lottery scam as the most known scam from the island.

“The most prevalent in Jamaica is the lottery scam, where scammers lead victims to believe they have won a drawing or lottery, but the cash or prizes will not be released without upfront payment of fees or taxes.  Scammers frequently target the elderly or those with disposable income,” stated the Embassy.

“If it is too good to be true, it is not true.”

The Embassy warns its citizens that it is illegal to play foreign lotteries from the United States.  Do not believe any offers (lottery, prize claim, inheritance, etc.)  that require a fee to be paid up front.

“Do not provide personal or financial information to individuals or businesses you don’t know or haven’t verified.  Do not send any money to someone you do not know.  Do not attempt to recover funds personally or travel to Jamaica to transfer money.”

The CNN story dubbed late People’s National Party political activist Kenley Lloyd Stephens, popularly known as ‘Bebe’, as the ‘Godfather of Scamming’.

According to the report, Bebe had recruited and trained a number of persons in western Jamaica how to perfect the art of lottery scamming and had amassed a fortune from the illicit activity.

‘Bebe’ was gunned down outside his residence in the upscale community of Ironshore in Montego Bay, St James in May last year. Gunmen pounced on him and two other men as they exited the residence and peppered him with shots.