Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
THE JAMAICAN scammer who, in a American television exposé this week, was shown meeting with undercover reporters in Montego Bay, St James, could have been nabbed had a special task force on the island acted on information about him.
Major William L. King Jr, chief sheriff's deputy at the York County, Maine Sheriff's Department, says he had got information about the scammer and had passed it on to the Jamaica Operations Linked to Telemarketing (JOLT) task force with suggestions on how to grab him.
According to King, who yesterday testified before the Special Committee on Aging in the United States (US) Senate, the scammer had befriended one of his female victims and she had been sending him gifts.
"We actually had a real address and we had a true name of the scammer, so I immediately contacted JOLT and said, 'Let's get on this'," King told the committee.
JOLT is a multi-agency, international task force established to combat Jamaica-based telemarketing fraud operations that prey on US citizens and others.
NO REAL RESPONSE
According to King, having contacted JOLT, the only response he got from the task force was a question about whether he was working with any federal agencies.
"My idea was to send a watch or something. She had sent him jewellery before. Put some scam money in it and watch it go in," King said.
He argued that there was "a culture of indifference" at the federal level when it came to tackling the lottery scam.
"I have not found a lot of interest in doing these scams and doing these cases," King said.
He added: "These cases are complicated, but they are not that complicated. What we need to do is put our egos aside and work on these cases."
Said King: "We can place the blame of this scourge solely on Jamaica's doorstep. Yes, the scam originated from Jamaica, but there are hundreds - if not thousands - of facilities operating and profiting right here within our borders."
At the same time, King said if some of the players in the lottery scam are extradited, it would send a very clear message.
The complex scam involves Jamaican con artists making telephone calls to persons in the US informing them they have won money in a lottery. The victims are then told to send processing and legal fees in order to collect the winnings.
In some cases, victims are told to send money to other victims, which is later routed to criminals in Jamaica.
Shawn S. Tiller, deputy chief inspector, US Postal Inspection Service, said consumer complaints received through a hotline established at his office rank Jamaica 16th as a source country for foreign country sweepstakes and lottery complaints.
"They trend significantly behind Canada, Australia and the Netherlands," Tiller said.