Home - The Star
April 20, 2012
Star Features


US blocking calls from 876 area code

with Leighton Levy

Recently I tried to make a phone call to the United States to conduct a pre-recorded interview for my sports talk show only to be greeted by a recorded voice telling that that the network I was trying to reach does not accept calls from this area code.

It was only days before that I had heard on the news that some states in the United States were blocking calls from the 876 area code. That's us.

So now, because of a set of criminals who are preying on unsuspecting but, in my mind, foolish victims, life could potentially get worse for many Jamaicans who are trying to conduct business on the phone with potential partners in the United States, or simply trying to speak to a relative or a loved one.

I mean, it's absolutely crazy when you consider how a few people can impact so heavily on the lives of the many. The thing is the many have to stop tolerating the foolishness. We often make the ridiculous claim in this country that we are not informers. Some people wear this mantra like a badge of honour. They will see what honour is there when they are unable to travel or conduct legitimate business.

Sure there are platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Magic Jack but there is still nothing quite like a direct phone call. Even worse is the terrible beating that Jamaica's image continues to take from these thugs. Once the image is destroyed then all of us are affected and then those of us who are against informers will see what life feels like living in an isolated country.

The police estimate that these criminals are taking in about US$300 million annually from the lottery scams. They use this money to buy big houses, drive expensive cars and live in opulence all at your expense. All the while many of us are looking on with envy not realising that your future is being frittered away by the very people who you're too busy envying. The reality is that it's not these lottery scum who suffer, it's the rest of us.

threaten you

On the other side of that coin, what is it about the people that get taken in these scams. I am sorry, but if someone calls me and tells me I win money in a lottery I didn't enter, I am hanging up the phone. And yes, they can call back and threaten you but instead of yielding to their demands, I call the police. It actually is as simple as that. I really don't see how it makes sense that someone calls me to tell me that I won a lottery and I have to send them money. It's dumb. The other thing is that how can I win something I didn't enter?

It boils down to one of two things on the part of the victims; they're either greedy or stupid - make that three things because they could be both greedy and stupid. Let them call back and threaten and let them come. What are they going to do, kill you because you didn't send them money? How will they know where you live?

In the meantime, the Government needs to be a little more proactive on the matter. Yes, the police are working as best they can to stifle and eventually kill the scam but the Ministry of National Security needs to allocate more resources to this fight against the scammers. Everybody knows who they are. A little undercover work and some creative policing and they can be shut down in short order. But like most things the people who should be protecting the people of this country waited until this lottery scam thing got out of control before they acted. Now that the horse has bolted, it's proving to be a nightmare for us all.

This means that more needs to be done to shut down these people before they ruin everything that has been built over the past 50 years.

Send comments to LevyL1@hotmail.com

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