Jamaica struggles to differentiate scammers from legitimate success`

BY R.D. Miller

The question now in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean is proving that you are not a scammer from any image of being successful.
On Thursday, April 26, 2017, many Jamaicans became dismayed, outraged, ashamed that their beautiful shores have become a hub for lottery scamming after they extradited eight people to the U.S.

These alleged people targeted several elderly Americans who lost as reported about 5.6 million dollars. 
According to law enforcement officials, there are others under investigation covering all socio-economic classes. 

Scamming has been a global illegal scheme that expanded in the Caribbean in the late 1990s, but has gone unnoticed in the region. Fortunately, new Caribbean laws in 2013 according to Associated Press made it much earlier to arrest and prosecute these people. 

March 15, 2017, MIMAR (CBS (Miami) according to Det., Mark Moretti, a New York couple who sent $40,000 after it promised them 2 ½ million and a new car is just one of several cases.
These fast money operations created an atmosphere like human trafficking and sexual exploitation that some in the region still believe only an American, European, Asian, and African problem.  A United Nations (UN) studies show that Latin America and the Caribbean serve as a major route for several illegal operations because of poverty and high unemployment.

This recent arrest will dismantle this global network: Scammers’ introductions are very persuasive and appealing. Potential victims, especially the elderly are at a higher risk.

“Good day, I am a personal advisor of your bank. I am contacting you to retrieve a huge deposit of US $6 million of your prize awards winning and payment to your designated bank account.
Or they chose you to receive a Cash Grant Donation of $2,000,000.00 US Dollars. 
Your ticket number is, such as 00873282727499.
Our Agents will immediately release your fund once you send us a set amount of money, or offer your banks and home information.” 
Simply put, any attempt to gain access to seniors or any other people hard earn money is a (Fraudulent or Deprive Act)

The key is to educate friends and family to be skeptical about unsolicited telephone calls and not divulge personal information, and inform law enforcement about any offering of an enormous sum of money or gift. 
Do not deposit any checks sent into your account, and or mail your personal check or conduct other electronic transfers. 

The last time they contacted me, I requested that my partition be donated to a charity for the poor, or a few choice words I cannot mention in this opinion.

Observation: Scammer is creating a major public safety risk. Even rural areas once considered safe, reports have shown, violence and massive killings from fighting over clients, and payouts like organized crimes, and drug dealers protecting their turfs. However, more credit should be given to the local government in taking the right step in finding arresting these criminals.

It is not a cultural bias or racial discrimination as few haves argued; it is securing prosecution, conviction, and sentencing.
The extradition to the U.S. is not “selling out.” It sends the right message and highlight that it will catch them. 
It time to move from distraction, avoid and denial, and support collaboration. We cannot minimize these criminal elements that it is elsewhere.

Scamming has also created instant millionaires who have gained tremendous respect and power in communities in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. Today leadership from government to parenting is critical in preparing the next generation to look beyond these illegal activities and to reduce ever-widening gaps between the haves and have-nots.

It remains a complicated network; especially for those who cannot protect themselves.
Victims are beyond unsolicited emails and telephone calls. They must now navigate local streets avoiding the latest model vehicles, and motorcycles as reported bought by the illegal funds speeding with little or no regard for pedestrians.
“There goes a scammer” is a common whisper. The questions remain: who tracking these vehicles’ paper trails from sale to registration, permits, and other major financial transactions.
The call for tougher penalties should also be equally important as helping victims that have been abused, sexually exploited, and murdered, especially students. Beneath these dark clouds, hardworking legitimate people are struggling daily to make ends meet in tough economic conditions, and some are still building immense homes without illegal funds.
But the ill-gotten cash to finance personal and business needs has now created an atmosphere where success and corruption forever link, thus creating innocent victims.

The Innocent and inconvenient victims:  Generational migration has created a better path for some, but has Jamaica and the Caribbean done enough economically to deter future scammers and stymie the mentality being formed by some?
Many visitors with local bank accounts are now running into major obstacles to getting access to funds from old accounts opened decades ago.

 While our parents were encouraging some of these accounts to keep the connection with its roots, vacation money, and an extra layer of safety net. During my recent visit, I thought I was applying for a mortgage for what should have been a straight down payment.

Sure, new bank legislation in protecting customers’ accounts is extremely important. However, an impression that especially a young man making a withdrawal is a scammer is troubling. With no advance communication; people are being blindsided to present a utility bill and or a job letter before they arrive stemming from the dark cloud some scammers have created.

Most of these accounts and home addresses both local and international have not changed, and the driver’s license matched what is on file. 
Maybe the ongoing deposits throughout the years should have been scrutinized?
The senior citizen I saw while inside a local bank demanding that the bank find her pension that has gone missing for months, only highlight the bank’s difficult road ahead.  Even if she suffers from dementia as some may believe as they watched helplessly, she is not alone in having concerns about deposits being missing.
Other than the long lines, these banks that play a vital role in the local economy will need more than a utility bill or job letter to fight off a new generation of technology crooks. Several youths I have spoken with are educated, have hope, looking for an opportunity, but with no plan and support, everything is just a dream.

Others sit idly on the street corners, bars and grocery shops caught up in this new mega-million scheme. Fighting these global networks where Jamaica is now part of these webs needs a recent change in basic assumptions.

Cautious Optimism: While the extradited people await trial, and others eager to know who next on the list, the scamming debate continues: who, why, and how it has become the next big thing out of the island, no one is immune. Despite what appears to be a major focus on international news only, while several local issues are being overlooked, the media is talking and that is a good start in informing their communities.

The Jamaican government also reported that they need an estimated that an extra 2000 new police officers to manage an ever-troubling criminal trend. As the force aged, and others have left for several reasons, some who stay could use an ethical assessment.
Training more support staff is important, such as new technology to monitor and track these criminals disguised in communities on a range of other issues as they continue to undermine the rule of law. Recruiting the right public servants requires discipline, honesty, such as extensive background and proper 21-century training is key to solve these global crimes.

They cannot develop the fundamental moral compass in guiding life and integrity in an academy. These are formed in homes, schools, churches, and the community at an early age.

Finally: Beneath these dark clouds of scammers, there are still good people there. A returned retired residence and a local Rasta man tire shop got us back to the airport in time after two flat tires on the road. After a long flight home, I placed a call to say thank you again. However, I had to convince him I was not a scammer.

The road ahead will be tough as poorer Caribbean islands are becoming more dependent on aids while struggling to develop better income, health, education, and standard of living. Despite these shortcomings, people who are connected, and love the island vibes will continue to vacation, or repair a room left by a parent, pay the new higher taxes on that land with hard-working dollars.
No one wants to become a victim of crime, or targeted from the perception of being a scammer from the actions by a few criminals, and many are happy something is being done.

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