Raleigh, N.C. — The family of an elderly Raleigh woman defrauded of nearly $200,000 by Jamaican scam artists received a $45,000 check Monday, authorities said.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Jamaican Constabulary Force recovered the money for her as part of Project JOLT, which combats Jamaica-based telemarketing fraud.
The 92-year-old woman received information in May 2012 that she had won a lottery prize, and a man later contacted her and said she owed $9,000 in taxes and other expenses to receive her prize.
Her son-in-law, Wayne Rettinger said the phone calls continued and the demands for money increased.
"We quit answering the phone," he said. "We got hundreds of phone calls. They would call every five minutes."
The scam artists cheated her out of nearly $200,000 before she reported the scam to law enforcement, authorities said.
Authorities were able to locate a bank account at the National Commercial Bank in Jamaica where the woman's money had been deposited and were able to get about $45,000 of it back.
The case remains under investigation.
"This is what they're job is," Tom O'Connell, resident agent-in-charge of ICE in Raleigh, said of the scam artists. "Every day, every hour, they're operating phones, cellphones, the Internet – just blasting away at phones – and if it takes them 10,000 calls to get one person to send them $200,000, that's what their job is."
Since the inception of Project JOLT, investigations have resulted in 149 arrests, 10 indictments and six convictions, as well as the seizure of more than $1.2 million in assets and the repatriation of more than $251,000, authorities said.