Mon | Sep 16, 2019

Scammers go XXX - Crooks turn to porn as elderly men overseas splash cash for virtual satisfaction

Published:Friday | August 23, 2019 | 12:22 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter

Some players in the multibillion-dollar lottery scam have latched on to an emerging industry in which they solicit large sums of cash from mainly elderly men overseas for cybersex services with local women via video link.

Members of the criminal underworld with whom The Gleaner has made contact have said that scammers are no longer fearful of law-enforcement officers as the light sentences for their illicit scam make it worth the risk. In addition, with the new pay-for-porn scheme, they are now able to earn significant sums while easing up on their scamming activities.

“Everybody is involved in scamming for some time now. It’s very common, The other day, a man get 30 months, [but] that won't stop people,” a self-confessed scammer, Jonah*, told The Gleaner.

He was referring to last week’s sentencing of a Jamaican man described as a major player in the lottery scam in the United States.

Oraine Gray, 23, was ordered by a judge in the state of Indiana to serve 34 months after he pleaded guilty to running a lottery scam that fleeced elderly and vulnerable victims of their retirement and other savings, raking in US$90,000 (J$11.6 million) between April 2014 to September last year.

“Because our arena get so full, you are forced to diversify. I started out when it was all about sweepstakes. Right now, the thing deh porn,” Jonah further added. “Men all over the world have fantasy of Jamaican women, and because of the technology we have now, they pay big bucks for virtual satisfaction.”

He said that venturing into the pornographic world has allowed him a greater peace of mind as he is providing a service for a fee and not peddling wild promises.

“I am no longer in hiding, really. When you look at it, it’s not scamming. We get the females and they play and these men pay. The females are paid, we are paid, and the client is satisfied. A girl is paid depending on what the male desires,” Jonah explained, adding that clients shell out “anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 for an act”.

Another player, Timbow*, who was introduced to the porn scheme by Jonah, said that he has pumped his earnings into a start-up.

“I operate a car wash and machine shop, and it is a registered business,” Timbow, 25, told The Gleaner. “When I started selling porn to these men, I quickly came up with the business plan to operate clean. It has helped me to the point where I can leave it in three years and grow my main business.”

He said that he does not view the porn operation as illegal as no minors are employed and the workers are paid for their services.

“We don’t use underage women because the clients will tell you the type of woman or women they desire. The girls are able to be independent. They earn and they live. ... As recent as last week, a woman was overjoyed [that] she did her thing and her child is ready for back to school. There is no touching involved, so they readily gravitate to the function of the business,” Timbow said.

Chenee Russell, manager of the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat in the Ministry of Justice, told The Gleaner that based on the dynamics of the operation, on the surface, it does not sound as if there is a link with human trafficking.

“It does not border on human trafficking if they are paid to perform and they are willing,” Russell said. “I can make further checks, but off the top of my head, it doesn’t. If they were not paid and the person kept all the money [there could be a case], … but they are not under age and they are getting paid.”

*Names changed.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com