ADVERTISEMENT

March 15, 2013

Kevin Miller / Staff Writer

Two daughters of Jamaican lottery scam victims – Kim Nichols of Hermon, Me.,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.

Collins, Nelson press for action against Jamaican scam artists

By Kevin Miller
kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida continued pressing federal law enforcement officials Friday to aggressively pursue scam artists in Jamaica who are targeting senior citizens in this country.

Nelson and Collins, respectively the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday reiterating their call to extradite leaders of the "Jamaican lottery scam" for prosecution in the United States. The senators held a hearing on the issue Wednesday.

Federal officials estimate that Jamaican lottery scam artists steal $300 million a year, primarily from senior citizens in the United States, including seniors in Maine.

"We believe extradition of a select group of these criminals would show all Jamaican fraudsters that they are not untouchable," the senators wrote. "The chilling effect of such an action could have an enormous impact in reducing how enticing these scams are to current and potential Jamaican scammers."

The senators also expressed concern about a "lack of attention and coordination at the federal law enforcement level."

"Therefore, we request a confidential briefing from your agency to learn more about the state of these ongoing investigations and hear about your progress in coordinating with other law enforcement entities to bring these criminals to justice," they wrote.

During Wednesday's hearing, Kim Nichols of Maine recounted her frustration in trying to get help from federal agencies to stop a scam that eventually stole $85,000 from her father.

Chief Deputy William King of the York County Sheriff's Office testified about encountering a "culture of indifference" at the federal level as he has tried to investigate and prosecute the scams.

Some Mainers have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the scams, which start with a call informing them that they have won a lottery, a car or another sweepstakes. Through relentless and sometimes threatening calls, victims are convinced to send money repeatedly to cover "taxes" or "fees."

The recent media and congressional focus on the scams appears to have caught the attention of Jamaican authorities.

On Friday, the Jamaican Senate was expected to take up a bill to strengthen penalties for scam artists and assist prosecutions on fraud charges.

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

kmiller@mainetoday.com



U.S. Senate Photographic Studio

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.



Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


  • Back to

News
Sports
Opinion
Real Life
Community
What's Happening

© 2014 The Morning Sentinel - All Rights Reserved.
MaineToday Media
31 Front Street, Waterville, Maine 04901
(207) 873-3341