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Jamaica making new efforts to curb lottery scams

Scam AlertScam Alert: Jamaica making new efforts to curb lottery scams
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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaican officials said Thursday that they are hopeful new legislation will finally result in a stream of convictions and lengthy sentences for fraudsters behind a multimillion-dollar lottery scam that has swindled mostly elderly Americans out of their retirement savings for years.

National Security Minister Peter Bunting told reporters that the law reform act will result in a "vastly accelerated number of successful prosecutions" of swindlers who have made the island a center for cross-border telemarketing fraud.

The bill was recently passed by Jamaica's House of Representatives. It will be taken up Friday by the Senate. Justice Minister Mark Golding said he expects enforcement of the law to begin by the end of this month.

The scam begins with a phone call that informs the target that he has won millions in an international lottery, but he needs to wire a payment to cover taxes. Victims who fall for the trick and send payments then begin getting endless calls seeking more money.

The Jamaican lottery scammers were the focus of a Wednesday hearing by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, which is co-chaired by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, just one of the U.S. states where numerous seniors have been cheated out of vast sums of money by aggressive swindlers from the island. Collins blasted Jamaica for not doing more to rein in the problem in recent years.

"I think they are finally taking it seriously, but it has taken a number of years for them to do so and I would like to see them put the effort in this, in stopping this scam, as they put into enticing Americans to come vacation in Jamaica. A lot of money is spent on that," Collins said at the hearing in Washington.

The U.S. is Jamaica's biggest trade partner and source of tourists. But at least 30,000 calls are made into the U.S. from Jamaica attempting to defraud people every day, authorities say.

Authorities have seized bundles of cash, hundreds of computers and more than 120 cars in various operations to dismantle Jamaica's lottery scam rings, Bunting said.

Hundreds of people have been arrested and some have been convicted on lesser offenses. But substantial convictions of Jamaican cheats have been remarkably few, largely due to big gaps in the country's laws.

"We recognized this activity (raids and seizures) was largely disrupting the lotto scam activities but we were not getting the convictions," Bunting said.

To solve this dilemma, the Justice Ministry crafted a bill targeting advanced fee fraud, identity theft and dishonest use of technology for accessing financial accounts. It also prohibits making threats and coercing victims over the phone. Beefed-up penalties could result in 20-year sentences in some cases.

Justice Minister Mark Golding said the People's National Party, which won December 2011 general elections after four years in opposition, had to draw up the new legislation "from scratch" since taking power in January 2012. He said the former Jamaica Labor Party-led government never tried to legislate against lottery scamming.

The Jamaican and U.S. governments set up a task force in 2009 to stop the schemes. But the problem has gotten worse. Complaints in the U.S. have increased dramatically every year and even the most conservative estimates put the yearly take from Jamaican scams at $300 million, up from some $30 million in 2009.

Lottery fraud is an old con, but experts say Jamaicans have proven very adept at the swindle. Charm is employed until payments stop getting wired. Some Jamaican criminals using fake identities and disposable phones that can't be traced have threatened to burn down elderly victims' homes or rape their grandchildren if they don't wire payments.

Vance Callender, a Homeland Security official and a former attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, said the Jamaican scammers are mostly articulate and involve a number of partners to defraud victims.

Scammers have "been known to repeatedly bombard their victims with non-stop calls, even employing verbal abuse to coerce victims to comply. Intimidated, confused and exhausted, victims yield to the telemarketer's demands," Callender told the U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday.

AP

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21 comments. Last comment 4 years ago by jamella724.
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noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
Bay Area - California
United States
Member #136477
December 12, 2012
4103 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:18 am - IP Logged

Jamaican officials said Thursday that they are hopeful new legislation will finally result in a stream of convictions and lengthy sentences for fraudsters behind a multimillion-dollar lottery scam that has swindled mostly elderly Americans out of their retirement savings for years.

National Security Minister Peter Bunting told reporters that the law reform act will result in a "vastly accelerated number of successful prosecutions" of swindlers who have made the island a center for cross-border telemarketing fraud.

The bill was recently passed by Jamaica's House of Representatives. It will be taken up Friday by the Senate. Justice Minister Mark Golding said he expects enforcement of the law to begin by the end of this month.

The scam begins with a phone call that informs the target that he has won millions in an international lottery, but he needs to wire a payment to cover taxes. Victims who fall for the trick and send payments then begin getting endless calls seeking more money.

The Jamaican lottery scammers were the focus of a Wednesday hearing by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, which is co-chaired by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, just one of the U.S. states where numerous seniors have been cheated out of vast sums of money by aggressive swindlers from the island. Collins blasted Jamaica for not doing more to rein in the problem in recent years.

"I think they are finally taking it seriously, but it has taken a number of years for them to do so and I would like to see them put the effort in this, in stopping this scam, as they put into enticing Americans to come vacation in Jamaica. A lot of money is spent on that," Collins said at the hearing in Washington.

The U.S. is Jamaica's biggest trade partner and source of tourists. But at least 30,000 calls are made into the U.S. from Jamaica attempting to defraud people every day, authorities say.

Authorities have seized bundles of cash, hundreds of computers and more than 120 cars in various operations to dismantle Jamaica's lottery scam rings, Bunting said.

Hundreds of people have been arrested and some have been convicted on lesser offenses. But substantial convictions of Jamaican cheats have been remarkably few, largely due to big gaps in the country's laws.

"We recognized this activity (raids and seizures) was largely disrupting the lotto scam activities but we were not getting the convictions," Bunting said.

To solve this dilemma, the Justice Ministry crafted a bill targeting advanced fee fraud, identity theft and dishonest use of technology for accessing financial accounts. It also prohibits making threats and coercing victims over the phone. Beefed-up penalties could result in 20-year sentences in some cases.

Justice Minister Mark Golding said the People's National Party, which won December 2011 general elections after four years in opposition, had to draw up the new legislation "from scratch" since taking power in January 2012. He said the former Jamaica Labor Party-led government never tried to legislate against lottery scamming.

The Jamaican and U.S. governments set up a task force in 2009 to stop the schemes. But the problem has gotten worse. Complaints in the U.S. have increased dramatically every year and even the most conservative estimates put the yearly take from Jamaican scams at $300 million, up from some $30 million in 2009.

Lottery fraud is an old con, but experts say Jamaicans have proven very adept at the swindle. Charm is employed until payments stop getting wired. Some Jamaican criminals using fake identities and disposable phones that can't be traced have threatened to burn down elderly victims' homes or rape their grandchildren if they don't wire payments.

Vance Callender, a Homeland Security official and a former attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, said the Jamaican scammers are mostly articulate and involve a number of partners to defraud victims.

Scammers have "been known to repeatedly bombard their victims with non-stop calls, even employing verbal abuse to coerce victims to comply. Intimidated, confused and exhausted, victims yield to the telemarketer's demands," Callender told the U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday.

30, 000 calls a day is ridiculous. These people are relentless whether they getting a busy signal or not.
I love the line " making efforts" to prevent Americans being scammed,.why not just get it done Jamaica?

    jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
    Harbinger
    D.C./MD.
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    July 30, 2006
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    Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:19 am - IP Logged

    That's ire mon.

      RedStang's avatar - tallman zps6gf4inoc.jpg
      NY
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      January 21, 2012
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      Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:21 am - IP Logged

      We must be paying or threating the Jamaican Government for them to actually do something. Would'nt doubt if they were in on it.

        TnTicketlosers's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg

        United States
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        February 19, 2009
        1209 Posts
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        Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:21 am - IP Logged

        The only way to stop the problem is to stop all communications to the USA.Stop selling the disposable phones over there,there is ways to fi it just do it.Put all computers communication towers on hold somehow.I dont know just a suggestion....Surely Americans are not still falling for this.All Americans are warned all the time about those people.Now no one wants to vacation there,well I wonder why.

          rdgrnr's avatar - walt
          Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
          United States
          Member #73904
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          Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:22 am - IP Logged

          These guys deserve hard time. And the question is, will Jamaican authorities make sure they get it?

          I'll believe it when I see it.


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            September 7, 2011
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            Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:32 am - IP Logged

            Doesn't sound like any of the "seized bundles of cash" was returned to the victims??What?

              sully16's avatar - sharan
              Ringleader
              Michigan
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              Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:36 am - IP Logged

              These guys deserve hard time. And the question is, will Jamaican authorities make sure they get it?

              I'll believe it when I see it.

              I agree, somehow I think all the ill gotten money, may have helped the Jamaican economy, be nice to see some serious convictions.

              Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

              For a lead role in a cage?

               

                                                          From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"


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                Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:42 am - IP Logged

                I agree, somehow I think all the ill gotten money, may have helped the Jamaican economy, be nice to see some serious convictions.

                We know it helped the ones who were "seizing" it.

                  sully16's avatar - sharan
                  Ringleader
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                  October 28, 2009
                  40296 Posts
                  Online
                  Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:45 am - IP Logged

                  We know it helped the ones who were "seizing" it.

                  I am sure corruption is running rampant.

                  Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

                  For a lead role in a cage?

                   

                                                              From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"

                    duckman's avatar - ducklogodrake64x64
                    Jacksonville Florida
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                    October 6, 2005
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                    Posted: March 15, 2013, 11:53 am - IP Logged

                    Next to tourism, scams are the second largest "industry" in some of these countries.

                    If people would follow four simple rules, they would never get scammed:

                    1. Never pay out anything for a contest or for something that is called "free". If you are asked to pay out anything for something that is claimed to be free or for winning a contest, then it is a scam. 100%. Everytime. Period. No exceptions.

                    2. Treat all unsolicited emails as scams. All those junk emails you get are scams and have one goal: to separate you from your money.

                    3. Never click on any link in an email. No exceptions. Clicking on an email link, even from someone you think you know, can put you and your computer at risk.

                    4. Never donate money to anyone calling on the phone or soliciting by email. They can claim to be anyone and even some of the better know charities are scams as much of their donations go to "administrative" expenses (wasted on high salaries and expensive buildings). Ask them to send you financial information about their organization on income and expenses. If they are not willing to do that, then ask them why their cause is not important enough to provide this information to you. That usually gets them off the phone.

                      helpmewin's avatar - dandy
                      u$a
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                      Posted: March 15, 2013, 1:00 pm - IP Logged

                      oh my

                      Let it Snow Snowman

                        noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                        Bay Area - California
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                        December 12, 2012
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                        Posted: March 15, 2013, 4:03 pm - IP Logged

                        Next to tourism, scams are the second largest "industry" in some of these countries.

                        If people would follow four simple rules, they would never get scammed:

                        1. Never pay out anything for a contest or for something that is called "free". If you are asked to pay out anything for something that is claimed to be free or for winning a contest, then it is a scam. 100%. Everytime. Period. No exceptions.

                        2. Treat all unsolicited emails as scams. All those junk emails you get are scams and have one goal: to separate you from your money.

                        3. Never click on any link in an email. No exceptions. Clicking on an email link, even from someone you think you know, can put you and your computer at risk.

                        4. Never donate money to anyone calling on the phone or soliciting by email. They can claim to be anyone and even some of the better know charities are scams as much of their donations go to "administrative" expenses (wasted on high salaries and expensive buildings). Ask them to send you financial information about their organization on income and expenses. If they are not willing to do that, then ask them why their cause is not important enough to provide this information to you. That usually gets them off the phone.

                        Wow Duckman, that was deep. Perchance you were a victim of this scam as well? You quote with authority dude.Lurking

                          HaveABall's avatar - rocket

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                          Posted: March 15, 2013, 7:59 pm - IP Logged

                          This might be good news.  However, the only way that these Jamaican resident fleecers can be caught is if their country audits/listens in on the phone calls of the phone lines that make the most out of country calls,

                          Who is going to pay for all those new hire contracted "auditors" to listen for several hours per day, several days per week?  Why would their tax-payers want to pay for such a service to, in effect, an outside country(ies) [the U. S. of A., an essentially bankrupt country these past six years ]?

                          Noel

                          Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!

                          Disney

                            JAP69's avatar - alas
                            South Carolina
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                            November 4, 2001
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                            Posted: March 16, 2013, 10:27 am - IP Logged

                            About time.

                            WHATT