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Sen. Collins Warns Of Telephone Scam Targeting Maine Seniors - Jan. 04, 2013

BANGOR, Maine - U.S. Senator Susan Collins has a warning for Maine residents-beware of telephone calls that originate from the Jamaican area code "876."

According to law enforcement and FairPoint Communications, as many as 30,000 calls are targeted to senior citizens in the United States from an "876" area code each day.  This number is often mistaken for a toll-free number. 

Those who answer the phone are congratulated for winning the "Jamaican Lottery," or a new car.  They are directed to send a "fee" of up to $4,000 to process their winnings.  The victims are told that once the processing fee is received, their winnings will be wired to their bank account or the car will be delivered to their home.

"The scammers are unscrupulous and work hard to build trust and rapport with their targets," said Senator Collins, who was recently named the top Republican on the Senate Special Committee on Aging. 

"In fact, local law enforcement agencies report many instances where, even after the scam is discovered, seniors do not want to stop sending money because they believe the criminal is their friend.  Sometimes the scammers become verbally abusive, threatening to harm their victim or their family if they do not send money.  Many victims feel that they have no choice but to continue to send money in the hopes of recovering what they have already lost."

This scam has victimized elderly residents throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We very much appreciate Senator Collins' concern and her willingness to take an active role to increase awareness about these lottery scams that are targeting our seniors," said Mike Reed, Maine state president for FairPoint.  "Senator Collins position as the top Republican on the Senate Special Committee on Aging puts her in a unique and strategic position to help address this serious and growing problem."

FairPoint created the website, www.bewareof876.com, with more information on this scam.

The bottom line is-if you receive a call from an "876" number-hang upů or, as Senator Collins advised, don't answer the phone.