July 22, 2013

Crackdown on Jamaica scams has timid start

Despite laws and some arrests, no suspects have been extradited and deterrence is questionable.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks with Hermon resident Kim Nichols, left, before a March 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

Nevins said the hearings held by Nelson and Collins were "absolutely essential in moving this in the right direction." But like King, he wants federal law enforcement agencies to offer more help to victims and their families.

"The arrests are a big step in the right direction, but there is still not enough (federal) emphasis on this," Nevins said. "There needs to be one place where people can call. That continues to be the problem: Where do you tell people to go? Who is going to take these cases and run with them?"

In 2009, ICE formed a joint task force -- known as Project JOLT (Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing) -- with agencies in the U.S. and Jamaica. At the March hearing, an ICE official testified that Project JOLT had resulted in 10 indictments, six convictions and the seizure of $1.2 million.

"The ICE-led JOLT task force continues to meet with our Jamaican partners to discuss ongoing trends and to share information," said Bennett, the ICE spokeswoman. "We are also assisting Jamaican law enforcement by providing training and guidance with financial crimes investigations."

Collins said she has been in contact with the director of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General's Office to discuss complaints that lottery scam cases were not being followed. Overall, however, Collins said she has noticed progress since March.

"The level of activity is far higher than it had ever been before. It doesn't mean that it is perfect," she said.

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



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