York County, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Senior citizens in Maine are being taken for hundreds of thousands of dollars by con artists in Jamaica.
They are charming, aggressive and relentless leaving their victims on the verge of bankruptcy. The scams have prompted Fairpoint Communications and law enforcement officials to launch a campaign called "Beware: scams from area code 876". It's something many families across Maine are all too familiar with.
Sarah Raymond's aunt in cape Elizabeth was the victim of the scam. It originated in Jamaica.
"When I came into it she had about 12-dollars left with very little groceries, no oil and no money to pay for her property taxes, her electric bill or oil", she said.
When asked how much her aunt lost, her response was " I would have to say over 150-thousand, at least."
Investigators with the York County Sheriff's Department spent months tracking leads, gathering evidence and following the money trail in these scams.
It led them to a man in Jamaica, who had been deported from the U.S. after serving time for murder in Minnesota. The case has been handed over to a federal task force based out of North Carolina.
These scams have caught the attention of Jamaican authorities who say the scams are hurting the reputation of their country, they're negatively impacting tourism and they're leading to violence. They say murders are on the rise in the Western part of the country near Montego Bay where the scams originate as the con artists fight among themselves over dividing up the money. That is money that the victims will never get back.
The hope is that others will learn from the victim's stories. Education is the best defense against these scams. Experts urge adult children to talk with their parents.