Victims of Jamaica lottery scams refusing to come forward

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday, November 8, 2012 – Upwards of 90 percent of the victims being conned by the ongoing Jamaica lottery scam are not reporting that they have been duped, according to a comprehensive research paper by the Caribbean Policy and Research Institute (CaPRI).

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 per annum from the scam; but, noted that this was conservative, given the high underreporting among victims.

CaPRI indicated that “non-disclosure” made it difficult to determine the actual level of funds being channelled to Jamaica through this illicit activity. 

The data was one of several key findings presented by the Institute at the Lottery Scam Forum organised by the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) in Kingston, Jamaica yesterday, Wednesday, November 7.

“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 University of the West Indies, Mona- based CaPRI explained.

In the paper, CaPRI reported that men were more likely to fall prey to ‘advance fee fraud,’ a generic term the researchers used 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 stated 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 highlighted that while it is often reported that most of the victims are senior citizens who have access to disposable funds, “it is difficult to have confidence in that picture of the victims given the degree of underreporting.”

In addition to the CaPRI paper, the forum sought to assess the impact on the financial sector, based on presentations from the Presidents of the Jamaica Bankers’ Association and the Jamaica Money Remitters’ Association.

The forum also looked at the implications for US/Jamaica foreign relations, with addresses by the US Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater; and the Minister of State in the Ministry Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Arnoldo Brown.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson; Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington; Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn; and Head of the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance, Justin Felice, also discussed security implications and legislation to eradicate the fraudulent scheme.  Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)