United States (US) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Operations Chief, Vance Callender, says Jamaica is way ahead of the US authorities in addressing the lottery scam, which targets senior citizens in the United States.
Mr. Callender was one of seven persons who testified on March 13, before a US Senate Special Committee on Ageing, about the ‘876 Scam Phone Fraud’, which targets senior citizens.
The Operations Chief said there has been continuous and unprecedented co-operation from the Government of Jamaica concerning the scam issue, and the Government must be commended for its recent move to enact new laws to facilitate the investigation, prosecution and conviction of scammers.
Mr. Callender told the Special Committee that in 2009, ICE entered into an agreement with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to form the Jamaica Operations Link to Telemarketing Taskforce (JOLTT), to focus on identifying, disrupting and dismantling organizations perpetrating Jamaican-based telemarketing fraud.
Since its inception, JOLTT has initiated 450 investigations in Jamaica, resulting in 149 arrests, 10 indictments, six convictions and the seizure of over US$1.2 million, which have been returned to victims.
Mr. Callender said that in order to build on this success, ICE and the JOLTT continue to meet with its Jamaican partners to discuss on-going trends and to share information. He said ICE is also assisting Jamaican law enforcement by providing training and guidance with financial crimes investigations.
A submission to the Senate Special Committee by the Government of Jamaica states that the administration recognizes the impact that the lottery scam has had on both countries and that the government has undertaken a series of measures to counter this illegal activity and to bring those responsible to justice.
The statement further notes that the government has passed tough and new laws that increase penalties and prison time for criminals engaged in the lottery scam and other frauds.
It also points out that the government is fully committed to working with the US authorities in the fight to prevent the lottery scam and other frauds that negatively affect the citizens of both countries.
Representatives from the Embassy of Jamaica who attended the hearing included Minister Counsellors, Mrs. Avril Bowen and Mr. Andrew Francis, and Security Attaché, Ms Stacy-Ann Green.
By Derrick Scott, JIS Reporter