MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Wisconsin prosecutors and authorities have convicted a major player in the well-known and infamous Jamaican lottery scam. You've seen the emails -- claiming you've been randomly chosen to win millions of dollars. FOX6's Contact 6 says these empty promises can empty your pockets.
O'Brain Junior Lynch (that's right -- O'Brain, not O'Brian) is a former taxi driver who has become the face of a nationwide scam and was busted right here in Milwaukee.
"We think this is the first case that we've prosecuted involving a Jamaican national -- involving these Jamaican lottery schemes, which do have a nationwide impact," U.S. Attorney James Santelle said.
Santelle helped prosecute and convict Lynch for calling people on social security and telling them they had won the Jamaican lottery. All they had to do was pay some taxes and fees.
Of course, the winnings were fake, and Lynch profited from the lie.
"He knew what he was doing. He purposely set out to defraud people. Taking their social security benefits, taking their life savings, promising things he plainly did not have," Santelle said.
Social security investigators traced Lynch's activities to a victim in Glendale.
The man had spent more than $100,000 hoping for his lottery winnings. Instead, he lost almost everything he owned.
"The promise of someone who says I can make that happen, I can make your American Dream come true, I can make you rich so you can pay off your mortgage, you can send your children to college, you can buy that new house, that new car - that simply is fraud," Santelle said.
Bill Cotter heads a team of social security investigators use this complex connections map to track and capture con men like Lynch.
He flaunted his earnings on Facebook with pictures of expensive watches, necklaces, money rolls and a carefree attitude.
"There are people doing this all around the world - preying on beneficiaries in the United States, whether they're making phone calls or doing it by email," Cotter said.
Cotter says whether the scam is on a major scale like the Jamaican lottery or a small one, the trick is almost always the same.
"No one legit is going to contact you out of the blue and ask for your identifying information. No one is. Social Security doesn't do that. Bank of America doesn't do that. Sears & Roebuck doesn't do that. They don't call you cold and say let me have your Social Security number, your date of birth and your mother's maiden name. Nobody does that," Cotter said.
Lynch didn't want to talk to Contact 6 on camera, but though his attorney says he understands that he and others profited off vulnerable victims in the United States -- that he just hoped to make a little extra money to help support his family, and that his actions warrant punishment.
That punishment was five years in federal prison, and he's been ordered to pay back more than $185,000 to his victims.
Contact 6 urges folks to understand that international lottery schemes are fake, illegal and will never produce the winnings these losers say you won.
If you get a call from one of them -- just hang up.