Rhodes scholar tells youth to drop lottery scamming

Rhodes scholar tells youth to drop lottery scamming

Friday, January 22, 2021

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LOTTERY scammers who live high on the hog, some as young as 16 and 17 years of age, are being urged by Jamaica's 2021 Rhodes scholar Fitzroy Wickham to rethink their destiny before the inevitable violent end often suffered by those who persist in that life.

The scheme is a multimillion-dollar transnational crime which involves local scammers who have close associates in North America, mostly in the United States, who supply the scammers with what is known as lead lists.

A lead list is recorded information that commercial businesses harvest from customers who use their credit cards to make purchases. Sometimes these lists are generated when customers voluntarily supply information to sign up for discounts, promotions, or loyalty cards.

The activity has mushroomed over the years, but has been heavily impacted by the efforts of the security forces to clamp down on the illegal drug trade, particularly in St James.

In a heartfelt charge to the Jamaican youth issued during the first virtual staging of the 41st annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast yesterday, Wickham, who made it clear that he was by no means unable to identify with poverty and longings, encouraged his peers to see beyond the present.

“I want the Jamaican youth to understand that even though you may be poor now it doesn't always have to be the case, but before you can invest in your bank accounts and businesses you must invest knowledge in your minds, you must invest time in your talents, you must first invest in yourself,” Wickham said.

“The get-rich quick scheme, annuh it breddrin. So many of our young men and women have found themselves caught up in scamming and other questionable activities and have lost their lives because of it, what is the sense of getting all that wealth but not being able to enjoy it? What are you losing in return and is your life with losing?” he added.

“You might say I do not understand, but I understand because I grew up in poverty, and seeing the extravagant lifestyle that I could not afford, but I am here to tell you there is a better way and, for me, that was education,” Wickham, who is now a neuroscience student studying at Wesleyan University, stated.

The former past student of York Castle High School in Brown's Town, St Ann, who, along with his sister, was raised by his mother following the death of his father when he was two years old, said his determination not to be a statistic, the morals instilled by his mother, and the hand of God shaped his success.

“I was acutely aware from an early age just how severely bleak my future looked when in primary school I learned about the different family structures. No one had to tell me out loud, but I understood from the many looks of sympathy and from the statistics I learned growing up that my future was most likely headed in the direction of our prison system and/or cemetery, but I didn't want anyone's pity,” he stated.

“From an early age my mission was to prove those statistics wrong. Those statistics did not define my life. The Lord determined it, and I knew that if I stayed within his will I would discover the plans he had for me,” he noted further.

Wickham was among the top three students in 2014 to earn the highest scores overall in the 2014 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, scoring 12 passes at grade one.

He encouraged parents to set the bar for their children.

“Parents, set an example, because your children are watching,” he noted.

In encouraging every Jamaican to apply themselves intellectually, he said that those with prowess in other areas beyond academics should also rise and take their place.

— Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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