Taking the fight to the scourge of scamming
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Wayne Josephs

As a nation we have had to come to terms with the harsh reality that, in addition to the double-headed monster of crime and violence, the scourge of scamming also plagues us.

We have earned for ourselves international recognition for the level of scams originating from our shores. Even sight of our area code in international dialling now raises red flags.

Both the police and political directorate have assigned resources in light of this, and the fight has had some successes with prosecution.

The lead story in today’s edition highlights that the case list for the Westmoreland Circuit Court has a preponderance of scamming offences.

We must take some consolation in knowing that perpetrators are being hauled before the courts to face charges and the threat of incarceration locally, as well as extradition for crimes against other nationals. However, that the number of such matters continues to rise is symptomatic of an inability to steer would-be scammers away from the vocation.

The lure of what is considered easy financial gain is not diminished and National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang suggests that scammers rake in some US$1 billion annually.

He admits that scamming is “an emerging, major crisis” with hundreds of people involved.

This truth signals that too many of our people are, more and more, opting for a route which violates our pledge to ‘advancing the welfare of the whole human race’ as they seek to use the wisdom and knowledge of their minds for ill-gotten gain.

Jamaica has long been recognised as a country that punches way above her weight class. That remains a hard-fought gain. We are known on the world stage for the production of numerous and great trendsetters. We are known for people who have positively shifted the tectonic foundations of the globe. We must not allow criminal elements to devalue the rich legacies of those who sacrificed even their very lives to make Jamaica a world beater.

The police say we figure heavily in what is described as “advance fee fraud” that exists in tandem with possession of identity information, which is an offence under the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, more commonly referred to as the lottery scamming law.

Some 86 new cases are to be mentioned during the Easter Term of the Westmoreland Circuit Court, adding to the 68 being carried from previous sittings. What now needs to be done is the work to eradicate the plague at its roots.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Wayne Josephs, the commanding officer for the Westmoreland Division, tells the Jamaica Observer that the general age group of the offenders, who are “mostly males”, ranges from 20 to 35 years. This cohort is, therefore, to be the target group for change agents. Behaviour modification programmes are needed to achieve the positive outcomes.

It is only with a shift in the thinking of what it means to be successful that any gains will be made.

SSP Josephs states, “A lot of the youngsters are getting involved in this kind of activity because they see their counterparts making money, driving high-end cars, and ‘flossing’ at entertainment events.” He also notes that, “A lot of the parents and relatives, some of whom are supposed to be decent and well-thinking persons, have now become accepting of this kind of activity.”

This is exactly what makes the fight so difficult. The change has to begin in the home with the instilling of the right values and attitudes.

Neither the police nor the courts can do this successfully. We as Jamaicans have to individually and collectively pledge to do better. This must include a restoration of a value system that counters the allure of ‘chopping the line’.

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