KINGSTON,Jamaica, Mar. 10, CMC- With reports of an increase in the number of United States (U.S.) seniors, particularly in the state of Florida, falling victim to the Jamaica-based lottery scam, National Security Minister, Peter Bunting says Jamaica is beginning to see encouraging signs from its cooperation with United States authorities in stemming the lottery scam.
"We are starting to see some encouraging results from the collaboration," the minister said as he piloted the new Lottery Scam Bill, the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, 2013 in the House of Representatives last week.
Bunting is hoping that this collaboration will help to eradicate the scam, for which the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly received about 30,000 complaints from American citizens in 2011.
Bunting told Parliament that he was aware that the actions of the scammers have been attracting increased attention from the U.S. media and members of the Congress.
However, he said that the most urgent issue is the effect of the violence generated locally by criminal gangs recruited by the scammers for protection, especially in the second city of Montego Bay.
"The FBI says that there are 21 criminal gangs operating in Jamaica which are involved in the lottery scam. In fact, we have identified 17 gangs operating in St James, and they are all involved in some way, shape or form in lottery scamming," the minister said.
He pointed out that in 2012, the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) leadership in the western parish established that 40 per cent to 50 per cent of violent crimes there were related to lottery scamming.
Only days before Congressional Hearings on the matter, U.S. postal inspectors and other officials reported that Florida is being targeted by the fraudsters due to its large senior population.
The Federal Trade Commission said the scam and other similar lottery schemes may be fleecing Americans out of US$1 billion annually. The Commission said complaints skyrocketed from 1,867 to 29,000 between 2007 and 2012
The agency noted that the likely number of victims could be far higher as many scams go unreported because of embarrassment or fear of retaliation.
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