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Jamaica faces battering in US over lottery scam

Published:Tuesday | March 12, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Dan Rather

Jamaica's image will take a beating across the globe this week as the deadly lottery scam goes before the United States Senate and will be featured on a major American television network.

The Senate hearings, which are divided into two panels, will start tomorrow with Kim Nichols, the daughter of an elderly scam victim from the state of Maine, scheduled to share her father's experience.

Major Bill King of the York County Sheriff's Department in Maine and representatives of the American Association of Retired Person are also scheduled to testify before US lawmakers on the first panel of the hearings.

On the second panel, US legislators will ask bureaucrats to explain what they have been doing to tackle the scam, which has fleeced elderly victims of millions of US dollars.


At the same time, veteran American news anchor Dan Rather, who visited Jamaica to produce a segment of a documentary on the lottery scam, is set to air part one of the feature tonight.

The documentary will be aired on AXS (access) TV (www.axs.tv/programs/danrather) and there are reports that larger networks, including CBS and NBC, will be airing segments of the programme.

In January, The Gleaner reported that two US legislators from Maine were taking steps to take the billion-dollar scam to the attention of Congress.

Their move was fuelled by reports that Jamaican 'phone scammers' had bilked some 200 elderly victims of more than US$13 million (approximately J$1 billion) across the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont in the last seven months of last year.

King told The Gleaner then that that was just the tip of the iceberg, and it was a sign that the scammers were continuing to operate unchecked.

Jamaica's National Security Minister Peter Bunting, reacting last month to news of Rather's visit, said it was cause for concern.

"He and his 16-member crew did not come here and ask to see some of the nice resort areas … . They wanted to see some of the areas where the scamming goes on," Bunting said then.