Scammers target senior citizens, whom the vast majority of have been white, duping them into believing that they have won large amounts of money. The seniors are then encouraged to send money, ostensibly tax payments, via electronic means which ends up in the hands of a local Jamaican syndicate.
Last week Jamaican lottery scammers were the focus of a special hearing by the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, which is co-chaired by Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Maine is one of the states where a large number of people have been cheated out of large fortunes by lotto scammers. Senator Collins believes that the various Jamaican governments have done little over the past five years to stop the Jamaican scammers. U.S law enforcement officials believe that every day more than 30,000 calls are made from Jamaica’s 876 area code in an attempt to defraud American citizens. The scams are considered cyber fraud because many of the connections involve VoIP or voice over Internet Protocol, which allows frequent number changes and the ability to disguise the origin of the call. The Jamaican and U.S. governments set up a joint task force in 2009 called Project JOLT, the “Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing” to stop the schemes. But the problem has gotten worse. Complaints in the U.S. have increased dramatically every year and even the most conservative estimates put the yearly take from Jamaican scams at $300 million, up from some $30 million in 2009.
U.S. congress persons and officials have begun increasing to apply pressure to the Jamaican government to resolve the problem. And the Jamaican government has responded—passing a new bill targeting the scammers. The law recently passed by Jamaica's House of Representatives, will be taken up Friday by the Senate. Justice Minister Mark Golding said he expects enforcement of the law to begin by the end of this month. National Security Minister Peter Bunting told reporters that the law reform act will result in a "vastly accelerated number of successful prosecutions" of swindlers who have made the island a center for cross-border telemarketing fraud. Jamaican authorities have already seized bundles of cash, hundreds of computers and more than 120 cars in various operations to dismantle Jamaica's lottery scam rings, Bunting said. Hundreds of people have been arrested and some have been convicted on lesser offenses. But convictions have been remarkably few, largely due to big gaps in the country's laws. "We recognized this activity (raids and seizures) was largely disrupting the lotto scam activities but we were not getting the convictions," Bunting said. To solve this dilemma, the Justice Ministry crafted a bill targeting advanced fee fraud, identity theft and dishonest use of technology for accessing financial accounts. It also prohibits making threats and coercing victims over the phone. Beefed-up penalties could result in 20-year sentences in some cases.
While Jamaican authorities have began to demonstrate much judicial vigor, the Jamaican people may have a different perception of the problem altogether. Take Dancehall superstar Vbyz Kartel 2012 release “Reparations” featuring Gaza Slim, for example:
As long as dem
Nah buy no gun, Nah support no war
Big up di man dem star from near and far
Dem call it scam
Mi call it reparation
Every ghetto yute is a star
Yow Yow (vybz kartel)
So dem wah live like one, one
Big up every scamma
Weh mek U.S Dolla
Build up di house fi yuh mama
Western union people fi gi wi more honor
Slah, full-stop, comma
Every ghetto yute fi a live like Tony Mantana
Presidental like barruk obama
Pool inna house and play inna hanger
Who say di scamma dem wrong
No, Hungry, poverty dat more wronger
Better dem dweet dan tek up the bomber
Memba di yute dem nah squeeze trigger
A just tru dem a nigger
You misa big mista you a di prime minister
College mi wah send mi sista
You say education a di key
Mi a beg yuh nuh tek mi ting sah
When The Weekend Star contacted Gaza Slim, she expressed her "right" as a musician to be able to do songs about any topic and that there are other issues more important than scamming that needs to be addressed. The paper also let dancehall fans give their views on the issue.
"Mi understand why dem ban it because when Kartel seh something the yutes dem aguh do it and scamming nuh right but the tune hard same way," read one comment.
Another read, "While I completely disagree with scamming I don't think the song should be banned. Scamming was going on long before this song and it will be there after. If they allow gun songs to be played then why not this? This is a great opportunity for the Gov again to use Kartel as a scapegoat and avoid doing their jobs by shifting the blame and focus on Kartel. He is an artiste and should only be seen as such."
Can Afrikans scheming whites/Europeans out of money be a form of reparations?
Well there are a number of reasons the two should never be seen as equivalent. For starters, when I think about Reparation I envision governments or large corporations that benefitted or participated in the business of slavery paying reparation, not individual senior citizens. Further, I see the monies received for reparations becoming part of a fund or held in trust by a responsible organization for future generations, and being given to a crime syndicate. I also expect the monies to be used to enrich the educational and cultural fabric of the descendants of the enslaved, and not be a used to buy guns that will lead to increased violence in an Afrikan country, the likes of Jamaica. The idea of scheming anyone out of anything, is dishonorable and should never be identified with the just amends, we call Reparations. Though the nations, businesses, and individuals that were responsible for slaving did so in a system that was deemed “legal,” but unethical; but the scammers are engaged in an activity that is deemed “illegal” and is unethical. Scamming is not a form of Reparations. Not because it is considered illegal but because it like slaving was unethical; because it like slaving was and is a basic violation of Maat!