The apparent increase in the number of individuals, primarily in the United States, falling victim to the Jamaica-based lottery scam, National Security Minister, Peter Bunting says has led to more cooperation from United States authorities in curbing the lottery scam.
“We are starting to see some encouraging results from the collaboration,” the minister stated as he introduced the new Lottery Scam Bill, the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, 2013 in the House of Representatives last week.
Bunting’s aim is to eradicate the scam, for which the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received approximately 30,000 complaints from American citizens in 2011.
Bunting informed Parliament that he was aware that the actions of the scam artists have been attracting more attention from the U.S. media and members of the Congress.
He also pointed out that the most urgent issue is the effect of the violence generated locally by criminal gangs recruited by the these scammers for protection, most notably 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, approximately 40 per cent to 50 per cent of violent crimes in St James were directly 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 robbing Americans of US$1 billion annually.
The agency also noted that the likely number of victims could be far greater as many scams go unreported because of embarrassment or fear of retaliation.
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