Caribbean 360 - Government officials arrested in Jamaica lottery scam
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday July 20, 2012 —
The multimillion dollar Jamaica lottery scam has taken a new twist with two elected officials now accused of participating in the international fraud that has often targeted elderly Americans.
Jamaican police officers have arrested Montego Bay Deputy Mayor Michael Troupe and St James Councillor Sylvan Reid, according to Police Superintendent Leon Clunis.
Clunis said that Troupe’s two sons were also arrested in an early Wednesday raid at the men’s homes where police seized more than $13,000 and two guns.
The high-profile arrests come within months of the April launch of a new government task force to fight proliferating lottery scams that had made Jamaica a centre for international telemarketing fraud.
Julian Robinson, a senior Jamaican official, told the press in April that at least 30,000 calls were being made daily into the United States from Jamaica attempting to defraud American citizens.
The Jamaican and American governments had set up a joint task force three years ago to combat the scams. But complaints in the United States increased every year and even the most conservative estimates put the annual take from Jamaican scams at $300million, up from about $30million in 2009.
The scams started roughly five years ago, at about the same time the country became a regional leader in call centres dedicated to customer service. Since 2006, many of the legitimate call centres have been based in Montego Bay where many of the fraud rings have emerged.
The schemes are so notorious that some American police departments have warned vulnerable elderly residents to be wary of calls from Jamaica’s 876 telephone code.
Jamaica police so far have detained 142 people in connection with the scam, but only 19 are reported to have been charged.
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