Thu | May 23, 2019

Scamming a dream job for wayward youth – UWI lecturer

Published:Friday | February 8, 2019 | 10:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

University of the West Indies (UWI) Western Jamaica Campus lecturer and clinical psychologist Georgia Rose believes that the mindset driving young people into lottery scamming must be understood in order to effectively tackle the scourge.

Speaking via a live-streamed broadcast to psychology students at the university’s Western Jamaica campus yesterday, Rose said that getting scammers to abandon the scheme is difficult to accomplish because they do not see it as wrong.

“The psychology behind the engagement in lottery scamming is more important than any crime-fighting measure that we might put in place because if I collect US$1,000 (J$135,940) every day, there’s very little you can do to deter me from engaging in that act. Because the act is not seen as an illegal activity, it’s quite difficult for us to appeal to the conscience of those engaged in the activity,” said Rose.

“Western Jamaica has the most informal settlements, and for many children, youths, and adolescents residing in western Jamaica, they don’t believe they have the resources to achieve the goals that have been laid out for everyone else. Scamming comes from a mentality that ‘on my own, I can’t accomplish what I desire’,” added Rose.

ATTRACTIVE OPTION

The university lecturer further noted that lottery scamming is considered an attractive option for young people who have few employment prospects after leaving school.

“When our youths leave school with no CXCs, barely literate, unable to even vie for entry-level positions, what are the options we have left them with? When the demands outweigh the resources and abilities, we back people into a corner and make other means of survival more attractive,” said Rose.

It is estimated that lottery scammers have conned overseas victims out of some J$1 billion in the last decade and a half while 50 per cent of all murders committed in western Jamaica have been connected to disputes over the spoils of scamming.

Lottery scamming, which came to public prominence in the Granville community of St James in 2006, was initially masterminded by former call-centre employees who defrauded unsuspecting American citizens, especially the elderly.

Over time, it began to attract the attention of gangsters and soon became one of the factors driving the gang conflicts, which have churned out in excess of 100 murders in St James every year since 2006.

A study conducted by the Ministry of Justice has indicated that while lottery scam court cases declined between 2015 and 2017, there was an uptick in 2018. There were 89 lottery scam cases in 2015, which declined the following year to 75, and further, to 47, in 2017. There were 69 cases before the court in 2018.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com