United States (US) authorities hurried to serve a stern warning yesterday that they would be relentless in their pursuit of convicted Jamaican lottery scammers after receiving the clearest of indications from their Jamaican counterparts that they would be extradited to that country to face the full brunt of the law.
Jamaica's Attorney General Patrick Atkinson yesterday endorsed the sentiments of US authorities that Jamaicans convicted of fleecing US nationals would be extradited to stand trial in the US.
Atkinson stressed that there was never any question of Jamaica's willingness to extradite lottery scammers once the request was lawful.
"America is one of the countries with which we have an agreement to extradite felons who have committed crimes in their country so long as it is in accordance with the law. The treaty has always been there," he told The Gleaner.
Added Atkinson: "The difficulty with the lottery scam was with getting the necessary proof because you realise that this was a cybercrime and so there has been the relevant amendment to the law to facilitate that evidence."
Repeated efforts to reach National Security Minister Peter Bunting late yesterday failed to yield confirmation of the United States' claims as calls to his phones were redirected to an assistant.
Threats swirling that the US could haul persons convicted of scamming Americans gained traction yesterday with reports emerging that Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater had informed US Senator Bill Nelson that the Jamaican Government has given its commitment to extradite lottery scammers.
A media advisory issued yesterday disclosed details of a telephone conversation between Nelson and Bridgewater.
In the exchange, Nelson reportedly stressed that extradition would send a clear message to the scammers, who have destroyed thousands of American lives.
Nelson, the chairman of the US Senate's Special Committee on Aging, established to find ways to protect seniors from financial fraud and other abuses, was quoted as saying: "If we can put somebody in handcuffs and extradite them to the US, it will have a chilling effect … . Let's go get these bad guys."
According to the report, Bridgewater told Nelson: "We have a full commitment and I am fully assured, once indicted, these criminals will head off to our shores."
At least one US media house has already reported on the conversation between the two.
Bunting had warned, during last month's debate on the bill to combat the scourge, that lottery scammers would face the full brunt of the law.
"It will be dealt with as provided for in our Extradition Act and various treaties that cover that," said Bunting as he opened the debate on the bill, formally known as the Law Reform Fraudulent Transactions Act.