A second forum to discuss strategies in support of Government and private sector initiatives to eradicate the lottery scam and address its impact on security, trade and foreign relations is scheduled for Wednesday, November 7 at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.
The forum, being hosted by Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), is set to begin at 8:00 am and representatives of financial institutions, remittance companies, diplomats, and members of the security forces are among the participants.
Describing the lottery scam as “a threat to all of society”, JNBS General Manager Earl Jarrett said “the efforts to deal with these growing illicit activities cannot be the remit of the Government alone”.
“To deal fully with the problem, we must look into all its facets so that, in addition to the legislation, policies and framework building, we can develop the right interventions that will mitigate the problem and encourage sustainable behaviour change,” he said.
Several violent crimes in western Jamaica, including murders, have been blamed on the lottery scam which is being used by criminals to rob mostly elderly people in North America of millions of dollars.
Police report that income from the scam amounts to US$300 million annually, or about J$$27 billion, most of which enters the island through
remittance agencies, as victims are often forced to remit funds to claim their prizes. The forum will therefore highlight the Government of Jamaica’s initiatives to curb the scam; assess the impact of the lottery scam on the banking and remittance sectors; and also feature discussions from a foreign relations perspective.
“We note the advocacy of several international groups who have initiated campaigns to educate persons in the United States who are usually targeted by the scammers; and, this transnational crime has significant implications for our diplomatic relationships. Foreign relations is thus a critical part of any discourse about the issue,” added Jarrett, who will chair the forum.
Presentations will be made by the US Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater; the minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown; State Minister in the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining Julian Robinson; Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington; Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn; and head of the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance Justin Felice.
A research paper on the lotto scam will be presented by economist Dr Damien King, coexecutive director of the Caribbean Policy and Research Institute; while the forum will also hear presentations on the impact of the fraudulent activity on financial institutions from the Jamaica Bankers’ Association and the Jamaica Money Remitters’ Association.
“The intent of this forum is to examine the concerted efforts that are being made to address the situation, by bringing stakeholders in financial and social sectors together to look closely at how our economic institutions and sectors are being affected; and examine the strategies in place to eradicate the illicit activity,” Jarrett said.