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The Government is developing the Law Reform (fraudulent transactions)special provisions Act to fight the multi-billion dollar lottery scam. In The Western Mirror's (newspaper) vox pop section, I shared the following view:

"The take home lesson for me is underlining the dignity of WORK. I think this bill, symbolically, lends itself to affirming that. Nobody should be nobody should be deprived of their resources by persons who choose to act malevolently. While I applaud the initiative, the effectiveness will depend on a number of things: 1. Enforcement. How prepared is leadership to take actions against those who support them, when they commit this offence? 2. Community Participation. People have to be aware that it does not benefit the greater human good to give tacit support to this immoral act by accepting from proceeds from scamming 3. How prepared are we to deal with the systemic injustices that deny opportunities to certain groups of persons, making them vulnerable to such immoral means of earning for themselves and families. This bill (a good move) MUST be supported with relevant social programmes that will pro-actively curb incidences of scamming."

When I ask,"How prepared are we to deal with the systemic injustices that deny opportunities to certain groups of persons, making them vulnerable to such immoral means of earning for themselves and families," I am alluding, in part, to the social exclusion that is caused by homophobia. That is what I wish to focus on in this post, since everyone else is focusing on the negative publicity and backlash that "Brand Jamaica" is receiving after an investigative piece into the "phenomenon" was broadcast by CBS & in the wake of a US senate hearing. We (government & advocates) are not seemingly willing to have this conversation. Hopefully this post will provoke such a conversation.

Many of the persons involved in scamming are constituents of the LGBT community, who society might deem "overtly" gay. Their inability to comfortably & safely pursue educational opportunities and find gainful employment is as a direct impact of sexual prejudice against them. They are forced to innovate for subsistence. Their other options are to remain on the streets, where many of them were banished to or to offer their bodies for lodging. Certainly, as a nation we seem not to be prepared to enter those murky waters of prejudice. Now, I am in no way excusing the despicable acts of those who scam. They should be held accountable, that is why I support legislative agenda to this end. However, what I am critiquing and interrogating are our crime prevention plans (including preventing scamming) & the systems that support social exclusion on the grounds of prejudice; making persons economically vulnerable and forced to innovate. I am arguing that when we have those systems of injustice and inequalities deviance is an expected result. There will be an increase in informal activities (even criminal) if the formal sector cannot refuses to accommodate "certain" people. The moral indictment, then, does not rest squarely on the shoulders of those who do wrong, alone, but on the system that provokes and facilitates wrong by a practice of exclusion. I want us to begin to have that conversation where we confront our prejudices and exclusionary narratives that are hurting us far worse than equality every will. I am not saying that such is the only cause of the scamming phenomenon but i dare say it is a MAJOR contributor. There is room to interrupt the current, monolithic narrative and introduce another that is constructed around human rights, poverty and disenfranchisement.

Many of those (LGBTQI) persons who participate in defrauding and threatening vulnerable , senior citizens from the US are faced with not just a moral problem (where they know what is the right thing to do but don't find it easy), but a moral dilemma (where two very important moral implications are at stake). On the one hand, there is the wrongness of taking STEALING from others and on the other hand there is the issue of life/surviving. They can avoid the stealing. But they will be faced with the reality of the other "gays" causing mayhem in the Trafalgar Park/Golden Triangle area (Some of them having come from that reality and having used scamming as a way off the streets), having been displaced from communities and family dwelling places and unable to find a job (owing to prejudice) with their often flamboyant selves.

Are we prepared to make such explorations? Are we really wanting to fix the problem? We can begin by addressing causes rather than treating symptoms - begin a conversation on the role of homophobia in all of this melee. Because it does play a significant enough role. We would have addressed a significant part of our problem if we so do. My granny used to say to me (Rest In Peace) that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. I tend to agree with her.


  1. Damien:

    Not discounting the points you make re the link between some scammers, vulnerability and the LGBT community, I believe a deeper analysis is required of the key actors in the lotto scam before the linking to homophobia will have resonance especially with me. I am aware that a large number of the actors are not from the LGBT community and so to so strongly align scamming with the LGBT community/homophobia simply feeds the existing stereotype and frame the way the broader society understand the urgency of the problem as well as the LGBT community.

    1. Thank you, Ian900 for your contribution. Somewhere in the body of this long post, I offered the reasoning that certainly this is not the only perspective but one that must be brought into the menu of possible contributory factors. If we can address the link to political "godfathering" (i.e. politicians use of this phenomenon to "care" for constituents); the linkages to the underworld of the guns for drugs trade and innovations of notorious gangs in addition to the perspective that I have brought and others may bring, we will end up with a "fuller" picture of what we are dealing with.

      I am and was well aware of how stereotypes can be drawn on to further demonize the LGBT community but I'm also convinced that and honest conversation around involvement of members of the LGBTQ persons would do more good than harm. What I offer is not the full picture or a solved mystery. I only seek to add another perspective to the ENTIRE mix...

      I love you for taking the time to read and comment

  2. Damien: Your response is noted. Glad you raised the various dimensions of political godfathering, gangs and gun for drugs in the scamming phenom as these appear to infuse the most brutal dimensions to the scamming phenomenon. I accept the role of LGBT actors in the scamming and indeed some might even suggest its origin among some members of the community but it has taken on some dimensions which we should explore and address as they could further entrench the very homophobia which you highlighted.


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