What is the Jamaican Switch Fraud?

Each and everyday, con artists throughout the world are making attempts to commit fraud.  From work-at-home scams to those leading to more serious instances such as identity theft, criminals are now equipped with the tools and technology to hit unknowing consumers from all angles.  Many are bold enough to attempt these crimes face-to-face with their victims.

Face-to-face imposters

One of the most daring types of fraud attempted today is known as the Jamaican Switch.  Here's an example of how it works:

A woman approaches you in distress.  Due to a thick foreign accent, you have a hard time making out her pleas but finally realize that she's looking to rent a hotel room for the night.  Since the woman speaks bad English and can't read or write, she asks for your assistance.  Displaying appreciation, the woman retrieves a large wad of cash from her purse, some of which she's willing to pay you for lending a hand. 

The both of you are then approached by a strange man who cautions the woman about carrying so much money around.  He makes the suggestion of depositing it into a bank.  The woman explains various reasons why she doesn't trust the banking system.  As the two strangers go back and forth, you explain to the woman the security involved in banking.  Finally, she comes to the conclusion that if you can prove the ability to make a withdrawal, she just may consider putting her money into a bank.  With a bit of free time to kill, you accompany the woman to the bank just to show her how easy it is.

Switching handkerchiefs swindles your funds

Of course, the withdrawal goes off without a hitch.  Grateful for the lesson, the woman then demonstrates how people in her country secure their money; a demonstration that involves the money you just withdrew from the bank.  She takes the cash and carefully folds it into a handkerchief and shows you how to secure it in your pocket.  What you didn't observe was the extra handkerchief she retrieved from her purse.  After separating from the woman, you open the handkerchief to find that your cash was replaced with shredded pieces of newspaper.  Devastated, you realize that you've been scammed by the foreign woman and the strange man who interrupted the initial conversation. 

A variation of the Jamaican Switch targets senior citizens.  In this scenario, a con artist approaches the victim and aks for help in locating a hotel or church, convincing the victim to give them a ride somewhere.  During the ride, the con artist concocts a story that involves collecting money for a worthy cause, encouraging the driver to put up money in "good faith".  After the donation is collected and the vehicle comes to a halt, the criminal makes an excuse to hop out and takes off with the money, never to be seen again.  

The Jamaican Switch and similar types of fraud prey on human emotion.  Those perpetrating the crime seek out individuals of good morals looking to lend a helping hand.  This is why you should exercise caution when approached by anyone asking for donations or attempting to make an example with your money.  More often than not, these people are up to no good and have all intentions of taking you for as much money as possible.

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In 2003, more than 10 million Americans fell victim to identity theft.

Identity theft costs business and individuals $53 billion dollars annually

In 2003, Americans spent 300 million hours resolving issues related to identity theft.

70% of all identity theft cases are perpetrated by a co-worker or employee of an affiliated business.