Yesterday March 13th, Jamaica’s National Security Minister and another high-ranking Government Official arrived in Washington DC to testify before a select Senate Committee.
The special select committee yesterday heard testimony from relatives of victims of the lottery scam as well as law-enforcement officials. The hearing followed the airing of a CBS documentary on the scam, and came a day after Jamaica’s National Security Minister Peter Bunting met with Collins and Nelson.(jamaicagleaner.com)
There’s nothing wrong with Allied Nations meeting under proper circumstances to share information or discuss strategies so that they may come up with solutions. One gets the feeling from the reporting, that this was not exactly what happened in this case. Judging from the tone of Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins, it appeared this was not necessarily a meeting between equals, but rather that the Jamaicans were there to receive a tongue lashing from their superiors in Washington DC. “I suspect that the Jamaican phone scam is one of the worst,” Collins said. She noted that to most Americans, Jamaica was a tropical paradise with beautiful white sand beaches, lush green mountains and vibrant sunshine. “We have all seen those ads full of gorgeous scenery and upbeat music calling Americans to come and feel the spirit of Jamaica,” she said. Collins also said billions of dollars are spent yearly by millions of Americans who answer the call for a vacation on the island paradise, noting that the money is essential to the island’s economy. “But beneath the Jamaica of those enticing ads and the tourists’ dreams lurks another Jamaica, one that brings nightmares to elderly Americans targeted by Jamaican criminals intent on swindling them out of their life savings. She told the committee that an estimated 30,000 phone calls are made daily by Jamaican scammers, who she described as “masters of manipulation” who play to their victims fears and emotions “until they drain them of every dime”.
Whoa there, lets back up a little, The United States possesses exponentially more resources in a single State in the Union than minuscule Jamaica ever could muster in a million years , not to mention at the federal level, yet Collins berate Jamaica for not doing enough?
In order for Collins to assert that scammers make 30,000 phone calls daily, I have to presume that the Senator has intelligence on what constitutes a scam call. If my presumption is correct, then the logical question has to be what has the United States done with this intelligence?
The United States has the technology and the staff to coördinate with its Jamaican counterparts in nabbing scammers and once and for all putting an end to this menace.
Let’s be clear it takes a certain kind of stupidity, naiveté’ and greed for any American citizen who has never entered a Contest of any kind in Jamaica a third world country, to hand over their financial information to someone they have never met, who lives in another country, because they were told they won a lottery. At last check it required over 90 Jamaican Dollars to buy 1 Dollar American, the driving force on the part of the scammed is greed.
The fact that people who turn over their life savings to scammers are stupid and greedy does not absolve those who prey on them from criminal culpability. It requires a sense of understanding and cooperation however from both countries with a little respect and a sense of reality on the part of the Americans. Susan Collins seem to believe this is a Jamaican problem which ought to be solved by Jamaica. I am sorry to tell the good Senator this but, she should first learn some respect in dealing with others, pontificating and posturing sounds good to her constituents but does nothing to solve the problem.
We know that respect has never been the strong suit of certain people in the United States, particularly when dealing with smaller weaker contemporaries. But we also have to acknowledge that Jamaican Authorities have not exactly done much to engender respect either.
The Government is inherently corrupt and incompetent, not vices exactly unique to Jamaica, but amplified because of the degree to which it exists there. The corruption Index compiled by interested parties to include Agencies of the US Government drastically devalues the worth of all Public Officials in Jamaica.
As is to be expected the Jamaican Government responding to the issue, could not for one moment put parochial political bickering aside for the National good.
Yesterday, Sandrea Falconer, the minister with responsibility for information, speaking during a Jamaica House press briefing, said the Government had used public education as well as legislative and investigative tools to shut down the scam. Falconer also shot down suggestions from the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party that the Government had not responded effectively to the lottery-scam crisis. “Sometimes people say a lot because they don’t know or they just have to talk because they want to be relevant,” Falconer said.(jamaicagleaner.com)
In my estimation this is part of the problem which has plagued our country, this is something which the President’s Press Secretary would never say about any member of the Republican leadership. How can a Minister representing the Government not understand that she is representing the official position of the sitting Government when she makes utterances like this to the Press?
This Spanish Town Road type of a response pretty much sums up the quality of Jamaica’s Government, disrespect and ignorance are the hallmarks, the party which forms the Government does not feel that the Leader of the Opposition is relevant. What does it say about the Government when the Minister tasked with articulating the Governments positions fails to understand that the Opposition is part of the Government?
So while Susan Collins talk down to the Jamaican Minister, we give them ammunition with which to burn us , because of our crass and callous disrespect for ourselves and others.
The so-called Lotto Scam has been in existence since around 2006-2007 to the best of my recollection. Like all other aspects of crime in Jamaica it has been left to fester and develop until it got out of control. This occur mainly because of police ineptness, and corruption, and the disgraceful and woeful lack of legislation to combat the ever-increasing sophistication of the country’s criminals.
Anyone feeling hurt or offended by the position of the Senate Select Committee on this issue should take a serious look at the crime situation in Jamaica. Many people argue that there is crime everywhere, suggesting that the heinous crime situation be rationalized away.
For years the Jamaican Government knew that there was a problem with scammers bilking people of their earnings, they did nothing, in fact there is ample intelligence from the Jamaican streets which shows that many people in positions of power are behind this scam. In some communities particularly on the western end of the Island many people live lavish life styles, flaunting huge Mansions, fleets of luxury Automobiles and Millions of American Dollars, yet they have no visible job or profession.
Lavish Parties are the order of the day, this allows the Government to shirk it’s responsibility to Govern, Police Officers are corrupted and everyone turns a blind eye. The problem with this scenario is that the practitioners behind the scam also reportedly use some of the proceeds of their nefarious activities to buy high-powered weapons which they in turn sell and rent. So the little problem of lotto scam has metastasized into a full-blown cancer.