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Study finds 90% of lottery scam victims stay silent

Published:Wednesday | November 7, 2012 | 10:05 AM

A new study by the Caribbean Policy and Research Institute (CaPRI) has found that upwards of 90 percent of American victims being conned in the lottery scam are not reporting that they have been duped.

This makes it difficult to determine the actual level of funds being channelled to Jamaica through this illicit activity.

Using figures from the Federal Trade Commission in the United States of America, CaPRI highlighted that Jamaicans may be receiving up to US$80 million (J$7.2 billion) per annum from the scam.

The figures were released this morning at a lottery scam forum organised by the Jamaica National Building Society.

However it noted that this was conservative, given the high under-reporting among victims.

“There is often a view of victims of fraud that they are partly to blame, and that you can’t con an honest man or woman,” a section of the paper notes, quoting other researchers. “This belief may affect the proportion of persons who report being victims of this type of fraud,” the research explains.

In the paper, CaPRI reports that men are more likely to fall prey to ‘advance fee fraud’, a generic term the researchers use to describe the lottery scam and similar crimes; and that men are also more likely to lose more money to scammers than women.

The research states that most victims reside in areas of the USA where there is a high Jamaican population, especially New York, New Jersey and Florida; and that victims risk their savings and social security payouts, ostensibly, for large sums of cash they believe they won in a “lottery” or the right to claim the fortune of someone who recently died.

CaPRI highlights that while it is often reported that most of the victims are senior citizens who have access to disposable funds, that actual fact may be different given the degree of under-reporting.