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Jamaica National to host forum on Lottery Scam, Nov 7

Several financial institutions, remittance companies, diplomats, and members of the security forces will come together to participate in the second Forum on the Lottery Scam, to be hosted by the Caribbean’s largest mutual building society, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel, on Wednesday, November 7, starting at 8:00 a.m.

 

The focus of the forum will be to discuss strategies in support of government and private sector initiatives to eradicate the lottery scam and address its impact on security, trade and foreign relations.

Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National, who will chair the forum, says the fraudulent activities continue to pose one of the highest threats to the country’s development, despite of strengthened efforts on the part of the Administration to tackle the issue.

“This is a threat to all of society. The efforts to deal with these growing illicit activities cannot be the remit of the government alone,” Mr. Jarrett stated, “To deal fully with the problem, we must look into all its facets so that, in addition to the legislation, policies and framework building, we can develop the right interventions that will mitigate the problem and encourage sustainable behaviour change.”

The fraudulent scheme, which operates mainly in Western Jamaica, is at the centre of several violent crimes, with the parish of St. James, being a major source for the trade. That same parish, which is a major player in the island’s tourism sector, is now experiencing the highest rates of murder in the country that are directly linked to the lottery scam, according to media reports. The reports show that the parish has twice the number of murders per capita of any other parish.

Reports also indicate that income from the scam is some US$300 million annually, or about J$$27 billion, most of which enters the island through remittance agencies, as victims are often forced to remit funds to claim their prizes.

The forum will, therefore, highlight: the Government of Jamaica’s initiatives to curb the scam; assess the impact of the lottery scam on the banking and remittance sectors; and also feature discussions from a foreign relations perspective.

“We note the advocacy of several international groups who have initiated campaigns to educate persons in the United States who are usually targeted by the scammers; and, this transnational crime has significant implications for our diplomatic relationships. Foreign relations is thus a critical part of any discourse about the issue,” Mr Jarrett continued.

Presentations will be made by the US Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency, Mrs. Pamela Bridgewater; the Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. Arnaldo Brown; State Minister in the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining, the Hon. Julian Robinson; the Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington; Director of Public, Prosecutions Ms Paula Llewellyn; and, Head of the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Justin Felice.

A Research Paper on the Lotto Scam will be presented by Economist, Dr. Damien King, Co-Executive Director of the Caribbean Policy and Research Institute; while the forum will also hear presentations on the impact of the fraudulent activity on financial institutions from the Jamaica Bankers’ Association and the Jamaica Money Remitters’ Association.

“The intent of this forum is to examine the concerted efforts that are being made to address the situation, by bringing stakeholders in financial and social sectors together to look closely at how our economic institutions and sectors are being affected; and examine the strategies in place to eradicate the illicit activity,” Mr. Jarrett said.

It is noted that the lottery scam, along with other forms of organised crime, are indentified as the main threats to the development of the country, and needs immediate response.

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