Detectives from Kosciusko County traveled 530 miles last week to track down a woman accused of scamming an elderly couple out of thousands of dollars.
Joanne Karene McCrary, 74, of Calhoun, Ga., is in the county jail on two counts of felony money laundering and two counts of felony theft, according to a written statement issued by the sheriff’s department.
It said the couple reported being duped in what is known as a Jamaican lottery scam.
The sheriff’s department described the scam as a well-established con that preys on victims “by informing them that they have won either an international lottery or sweepstakes.” To claim the money, victims are told they must pay advance fees – such as insurance, customs duties or taxes – in order to get their winnings.
The two older county residents also told detectives they discovered that their Social Security checks had been diverted to Georgia, which led to McCrary.
The sheriff’s department said the woman is accused of illegally transferring the stolen money and mailing it to Jamaica in the form of bank cards.
It appears that McCrary herself had fallen victim to the scam, loosing tens of thousands of dollars, the police said, and then became a "mule" for the Jamaican criminals.
Kosciusko officers are working with officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission to locate other potential victims.
The sheriff’s department said. ICE is working with Jamaican officials on “Project JOLT,” Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing, a task force that is combating Jamaican-based telemarketing scams.
Kosciusko County detectives and federal officials warn members of the public to be on the lookout for telemarketing scams, particularly from anyone using the 876 area code.
The Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office also assisted in the fraud investigation.