Western Union resumes limited operations in Jamaican problem area
Western Union sets caps on funds that it will transfer in and out of St James parish.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday, August 16, 2012 — Honest Jamaicans who rely on remittances from relatives overseas to make ends meet are now being forced to suffer along with the criminal elements in St James parish in northern Jamaica.
That is because Western Union has set a money transfer limit of US$400 for money flowing in or out of its branches in the parish that has become labelled as a hotbed for a multimillion-dollar lottery scam that targets mostly elderly Americans.
The global money transfer company reopened three of its 14 St James branches yesterday (Wednesday) after it last week closed all of its operations in the parish in order to conduct a "systems review".
Although not explicitly stated, the new limit on transactions is considered to be a counter-measure to against the lottery scam that reportedly reaps approximately US$300 million from US victims alone each year, according to American lottery scam watchdog Fairpoint.
Western Union insisted that Jamaica is an important market and said it was committed to providing outstanding service to all its customers.
Company spokesman Daniel Diaz, in a statement issued through GraceKennedy Money Services -- Western Union's exclusive agent here -- said service had resumed at GRS Financial Group, Hometown FSC, and MegaMart.
"The company will strive to reopen additional locations in the impacted region," the statement said.
Additionally, the company said it has implemented several measures to aid in reducing the inconvenience faced by its customers with free shuttle services between St James and neighbouring parishes. Departure times are 9:00 am, 12:00 midday and 3:00 pm.
"As a leader in global payment services, Western Union is dedicated to providing consumers fast, reliable and convenient money transfer services around the world. Our reputation, our brand, and the trust of our stakeholders are irreplaceable assets," the company said. "Our future success depends on ensuring that we continue to protect consumers and our global network."
Western union also thanked "all consumers for their patience" during the time of the closures.