Block them! - Businessman suggests telecoms companies block numbers making excessive international calls
With Jamaica gaining worldwide notoriety for lottery scamming, there is a suggestion from a prominent member of the business community to have cell phones and landlines making excessive international calls blocked.
Businessman Patrick Casserly has suggested that to further cripple the illicit practice of Jamaicans fleecing citizens overseas - particularly in the United States (US) - of millions of dollars, policymakers should seek to get telecommunication companies to monitor call traffic.
Casserly, a former adviser to Prime Minister Andrew Holness while his Jamaica Labour Party was in opposition, argued that where a cell phone number is making in excess of 30 international calls per day, the company should suspend the caller's account.
"Shut down the number, block it! Who makes 30 international calls per day?" he questioned.
"High-volume calling is the hallmark of scammers."
It is estimated that Jamaicans make approximately 30,000 calls to the United States per day, typically from cell phones and landlines.
Casserly said that if there is a need for making in excess of 30 international calls, there should be a process of declaration to the call-service provider.
Scammers use a lead list to get the names and numbers of prospective victims, most times the elderly, calling them to announce good news about them winning the lottery. However, the victims are told that there is a fee to claim their winnings and they are given instructions on how and where to send the 'claim fees'.
The victims are called several times over a period to send even more claim fees, resulting in some of them being completely wiped out, but still with the expectation of receiving their winnings.
... new ways to scam
After being detected and chased by the United States and Jamaican authorities, lottery scammers have found new ways to continue their illicit acts.
They have been using Voice over Internet Protocol services and over-the-top services, which are difficult to trace and less detectable than making normal calls via cell phones and landlines.
To stem this practice, businessman Patrick Casserly believes that the authorities should clamp down on those who have access to a high-capacity line (for Internet connection).
He is suggesting that only registered companies should have such privileges.
"The OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) could implement this overnight. The use of IP (Internet Protocol) calling can also be tracked," the businessman argued.
Casserly made it clear that his suggestion was not to listen to calls, but to monitor them.
His suggestions come amid heightened concerns that a series of murders in the western end of the island is being driven by lottery scamming.
The recent murders of two children in Hanover has not escaped the eyes of Casserly.
"It is unconscionable!" he declared, enraged. "The murders in Hanover really took a toll on me. When we see five-year-old children being killed and people are saying it is because of scamming, then we have a serious problem. It is hitting home."
The businessman said there is a need for decisive action. He has called on the authorities to implement preventative measures.
"We can dally around this thing as we want, but we need to tackle the root causes and stop trimming leaves," Casserly said.