March 14, 2013

Crackdown urged on Jamaican scammers who hit Mainers

Sen. Collins helps organize a hearing to draw attention to the thefts from senior citizens, including nearly 200 cases in Maine.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Two daughters of Jamaican lottery scam victims – Kim Nichols of Hermon, Maine, left, and Sonia Ellis of Canada – as well as Chief Deputy Sheriff William King of the York County Sheriff’s Office prepare to testify on Wednesday to the Senate Special Committee on Aging on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.

Kevin Miller / Staff Writer

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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks with Hermon resident Kim Nichols, left, on Thursday before a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging about lottery scams targeting senior citizens. Nichols’ father, who lives in New Hampshire, lost $85,000 to the Jamaica-based scammers.

U.S. Senate Photographic Studio

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As an example, King recounted how just two months ago he got a real name and address for one of the perpetrators in Jamaica. He contacted the Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing task force, led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but to no avail. A television news crew easily tracked down the scam artist in Jamaica.

"What we need to do is put our egos aside and work on these cases," King said, who suggested a joint task force similar to the one that handles terrorism cases. "Federal, local and county agencies can all work together and we can get these cases solved."

The committee also heard testimony from Kim Nichols of Hermon, whose father lost $85,000 to the con artists.

Her father, a retired professional pilot living in New Hampshire, was smart and good with his money, but he was lured by the prospect of using his winnings to help others.

"They are arrogant and they clearly know they can continue to operate without consequence," Nichols said.

Representatives from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the money wire-transfer service Western Union told lawmakers about their efforts to inform the public and strengthen protections against fraud.

Shawn Tiller, deputy chief inspector for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said arrests can go only so far against scams so large and complex.

"Education is clearly the first line of defense," Tiller said. 

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

 

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