The drafting of legislation and the establishment of an inter-ministerial task force, are among measures being put in place by the Government to curb the multi-million lotto scam in Jamaica
State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, addressing a media briefing at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on April 19, said the new drive was impelled by the “increasing attention being paid to the lotto scam and the response of law enforcement and other stakeholders in the United States."
He said the implications of these activities are far-reaching and impact many areas of national life.
“Firstly it gives Brand Jamaica a very negative image, particularly in a year when we are celebrating our 50th anniversary as a nation. It negatively impacts Jamaica’s reputation as a place to do business and specifically the ICT outsourcing sector, which is a major area of growth and job creation for the country. It also negatively impacts our tourism product and is likely to turn tourists off coming to Jamaica,” he stated.
Underscoring the scope of the lotto scam challenge in Jamaica, Mr. Robinson said that each day, approximately 30,000 calls were made into the United Sates (US) by Jamaican criminals attempting to defraud persons.
Jamaican criminals involved in scamming earn approximately US$300 million annually from the criminal enterprise with a single player estimated to have garnered $1 billion. The lotto scammers, through criminal associates based in the US, visit homes and threaten victims with violence if monies are not paid.
He informed that the inter-ministerial task force, which will co-ordinate the implementation of an action plan to address the issue, comprises representatives from the Ministries of Tourism; National Security; Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Industry Investment and Commerce; Information; Science, Technology Energy and Mining; JAMPRO; and the Police High Command.
He said the legislation to be put in place will target those who use Information Communication Technology (ICT) to commit security breaches, with appropriate sanctions and penalties for breaches. He said that one of the objectives is to minimise the risks of unauthorised access and the disclosure of consumer information.
In addition, Mr. Robinson informed that a comprehensive public education programme will be launched shortly targeting those susceptible to the criminal enterprise. A Central Emergency Response Team to address matters regarding cyber threats and undertake appropriate responses will also be established.
In recent weeks, a new website www.bewareof876.com was launched to warn persons of the dangers of Jamaican lotto scammers. Just two days ago, the respected Huffington Post published a story on the lotto scam. Further in May, a televised programme will be aired across the US highlighting the impact of the scammers.
Meanwhile, the police will continue to enforce measures including close collaboration with US law enforcement in order to bring the perpetrators to book and facilitate the forfeiture of assets acquired by way of the criminal activity.