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KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — 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.


  • Cindy Royal says:

    Now that this bill has been passed, it should be fun to watch the police try to associate every single, solitary crime that occurs in Jamaica to the lottery scam.

  • LUNDUN says:

    i think there is no excuse to intimidate ppl fi dem hard earned money.

    i don’t like di scammers action and they all need to be punished.

  • Foxy Lady says:

    Filling up the penitentiaries some more. I will have more leniency on a weed man trying to make a living but when you feel you’re entitled to people’s hard earned cash by whatever means necessary, I’m all for putting the bastards away.

  • Brightlight says:

    I don’t like scammers either but some of these people, elderly or not, just plain STUPID! You mean to tell me somebody can call your phone with an unfamiliar accent telling you you just won how much millions of dollars but you have to pay such and such to receive and you fall for it?

    Greed is a sin. At the end of the day they simply fell victim to greed. Old don’t equal dumb. If you elderly and can use a computer that alone show you up to the time.

    Jamaica have bigger problems to fix than worrying about ppl being scammed in the US. So disgusted by the tight grip the US government has around Jamaica’s throat. I would love to know the true reason why the US is taking such an interest in Jamaica. If it aint battyman and lesbian now it’s scamming. KMT

  • Brightlight says:

    All of a sudden the scamming reach CBS news and all these US law enforcement in Jamaica and Jamaican government start wipe the US ass as usual.

  • Met says:

    brightie mi dus a come dash out my dash out……………….all when dem lock up dey asses will still be scammed..mi waa know is what kinda bill nigeria did pass after dem scam out di whole a us billions…dem a run go do bill and dem still nah get no respect

  • Brightlight says:

    Yes Met I’m telling you! All of this fi what? Why not use the same money and time they spending in Jamaica (probably planting more seeds of corruption while they’re at it) to send out pamphlets to the elderly in the US to teach them about scams. KMT f—ry at its best!

  • Cindy Royal says:

    I’ve basically remained silent on this as I was waiting to see how long it would take for the Ja govt to bend over to the US & pass this bill, given that the sex crime bill is taking forever & dna bill don’t reach parliament yet. There’s a few things I know for certain:

    1) I have NO LOVE for thieves/con artiste/scammers, BUT
    2) You CANNOT con/scam an honest man
    3) Dishonest & greed will always lead to man’s downfall.

  • Met says:

    Dem fi gwaan whey di scammer dem fi start do a sell dem some fake products because that is america’s biggest scam..dem telemarketing shit whey dem claim product do dis and dat and when u buy is a bag a garbage…dem a dem own biggest scammers..Im not saying what they are doing is right…it shameful and wrong butttttttttttttt all dem a chat bout 300 million is lie nothing nuh guh suh dem jus waa put the spotlight pan jamaica and as usual di dutty government is allowing it

  • Foxy Lady says:

    Brightie, the bible right when it list greed as a deadly sin. I can’t wrap my mind around it. One Jamaican lady I know in Florida. She was receiving $1500 (not sure if it’s every fortnight or month) from disability from being hurt on the job and as she get the check she would western union it to the Nigerian scammers. When she told me I was in utter shock. I told her it was a scam and she would not accept it. She was renting a house and got evicted because she gave away her money in hopes of receiving riches.
    She would hate it when I would come by. She would go for the papers that she signed and papers from attorneys as proof and I would tell her, anyone can send you this, it doesn’t mean anything. They milked her and dragged her on for so long I don’t know what eventually became of her. But my point is, while you and I may not understand it, people fool nuh faught.

    Met, from long time the US have a thing for Jamaica, from Michael Manley days and I have been so curious about their plans for Jamaica since the drones were sent to Jamaica for Dudus. So yes, there is the scamming and one wonders what’s the difference between the Nigerians now and the Jamaicans since it’s the same thing. And like you, I am so curious to know what their overall plan is for Jamaica, not just with the scamming but their interest is a little disconcerting.

  • Met says:

    The half of what Nigerians have taken from the U.S back to Nigeria has never been told and wont..

  • Met says:

    Foxy everytime Jamaica look up there they are stepping on our heads….How many scammers really a work islandwide, what are those numbers? Mind u western Union crack down pan di money transfer thing and a nuh U.S alone a get scam so mi really nuh get it

  • Nom de plume says:

    Good day Met and Metters, this particular type of scamming is a world wide thing, mostly targeting people from the developed world for obvious reasons. Crime is crime and it is the duty of the judiciary to institute laws to combat it, but it always amazes me how Jamaica is so quick to divert vital resources to crimes that affect Americans while struggling to protect the rights and lives of it’s own people. Who is going to pay for these long incarcerations being proposed? The Jamaican tax-payers who are mainly law abiding citizens and who expect their taxes to be used to protect them and their interests? Why should they have to pay for the stupidity of Americans, This type of scam requires the full co-operation of the victim so I don’t have much sympathy for them.

  • Riches says:

    hehehe we knew the govt would buckle and hurry and pass legislation. So many things wrong wid dis article, Brightie u have said it best, old does not equate for being dumb, sometimes i feel sorry for them but my god greed fuels anything! who can call mi tell mi mi win lottery and ask mi fi pay? tek out yuh taxes an sen mi d res! The subtle strong harm tactics usually employed by the US has again won, it was only time, u hear them a talk bout we must deal wid it like how we advertise for tourist? Why must we put suh much importance on scamming? kmt, and hundreds of persons have been arrested? well how many convictions? kmrt

  • missmention says:

    Mi nuh think a greed per se in all cases….if dem seh a lottery dem win, anno greed as such, who wouldn’t want to claim dem winnings? Wickedness yes…and caws people a fool huh mean dem deserve fi lose den money…some a dem all seh no dem nuh interested and di scammer dem use Google earth of seh dem know weh di people dem live and a come kill dem…

  • Anonymous says:

    It is very telling when individuals talk about the elderly being greedy and foolish and deserve to be scammed. What I want to know is: is it true that 40,000 Jamaicans got scammed by the crooked Carlos Hill and his Cash Plus scheme? How many lost millions to the Olint Scam? May Daisy? Worldwise? Higgins-Warner? etc., etc., Were they foolish/greedy? Stupid maybe? Hmmmmmm…………………..

  • Brightlight says:

    @Anonymous if it sounded to good to be true, stupid, YES! And this isn’t about them this is about US citizens being scammed by Jamaicans. Like I said, Jamaica have MUCH BIGGER FISH TO FRY with JAMAICA/Jamaicans particularly our politicians than some ppl who chose to send money off to MAKE MONEY! Please!

  • Riches says:

    @ missmention, claim winnings wen you never even purchased a ticket? no mon something is clearly wrong, it is greed! and yes if smaddy a fool an wah foolishly sen den hard earned money to smaddy fi promises of more money dem is a dam fool, age will not absolve you in this instance, sometimes the human part a me feel sorry fi dem an sometimes mi seh mi nuh sarry causen seh stupid a stupid

  • Foxy Lady says:

    Anonymous, while I’m the most skeptical person on the planet and ain’t nobody getting my money so easily, you cannot compare Olint et al. to the lottery scammers. Yes, there were all duped, however, what lured many people into the pyramid schemes were word of mouth recommendations from friends who were already receiving money, friends who had already doubled and tripled their money. Olint to my knowledge did not seek out and call them to invest.
    I don’t see how a random phone call initiated by a random person from a foreign country about millions in winnings could seem legitimate especially when you have to pay money to receive those winnings. That to me takes extreme gullibility.
    Apples and oranges completely.

  • Little Willie says:

    Riches…. the calling lists come from the Sweepstakes processing centers, and old people whe nuh have chick nor child fi keep dem busy, siddung and fill out entries all the time. Please also remember that a good percentage of these old folks are suffering from mental degenerative diseases.

  • eyecandy says: dat mi seh to teck out yuh tax and sen mi di rest! Dat mi tell one a dem wen dem sen mi email (i figured nigerians) and that about 06′ before it get scamming was popular knowledge.

    @willie yuh lucky nuff people right yah a Jamaica a get scam to! Mi memba mi fren a tell mi how one girl run come to him breathless seh shi a barrow money causen seh she win money mi tell him seh a scam an him fi tell har..him seh a nuff people she up and dung a baarrow money from fi claim winnings.Dont know what became of dat ooman :travel

  • u ppl are so heartless i hope dem scam unu parents and grandparents then some of u will knw how hurt those poor elderly ppl must feel. i pray they finnd them and lock dem criminal asses in jail.

  • Too much says:

    There isn’t a single excuse in the book that makes scamming ok. We cuss people whe theif pan jmg all day every day, it’s the same concept. Scamming is theifing . we must never ever take advantage of people’s ignorance, is sad, it’s dishonest and it sip,Ian ole wicked. To think people on here say will dem fool so we must take dem money jus show a real level of lowlife thinking. It can’t be ok as long as its not u. Unoo have to think bout all of those things…..there aren’t enough ways to say its just not right and cannot be justified

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