News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. Jan. 12, 2017: I went to Western Union (WU) on January 10, 2017 and sent some money to Jamaica. Upon handing me my receipt, the agent gave me a number to call WU to answer a few questions before the money transfer would be completed. You can well imagine my consternation and immediate reaction.
However, on calling WU, the first question to me was whether my money transfer was in response to a lottery and the purpose of the transfer. I was then asked about my relationship with the recipient. My purpose certainly was not lottery scam-related. As to my relationship with the recipient, I felt that it bordered on privacy rights encroachment.
Nevertheless, I understood the objective of the restrictive process implemented by WU and the questions asked. I was fully cooperative. My funds were sent without a hitch.
I couldn’t resist asking some questions of my own. I learnt that this newly introduced process by WU in 2017 was part of working with law enforcement to prevent Americans from being scammed by Jamaicans. I fully support any effort to end this lottery scam scourge on our country.
Jamaicans in the Diaspora send over US$2 billion annually for the past ten years to Jamaica. In 2015 Diaspora remittances were US$2.3 billion. Any constraint on Diaspora remittances could have a significant adverse effect on Jamaica’s economy. Remittances contribute approximately 16% to Jamaica’s GDP. It is extremely important that Remittances move smoothly in the international financial money transfer system
My recommendation to all Diaspora members is to cooperate fully with WU and other money transfer agents. Apart from not having many alternative choices to engage in money transfer without similar scrutiny, we should all be contributing to help stamp out lottery scammers by Jamaicans and their collaborators. Let’s support our law enforcement community. That’s the least we can do.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ambassador Curtis A. Ward, B.A., J.D., LL.M., is an attorney and international consultant, and Adjunct Professor in the Homeland Security Graduate Program at the University of the District of Columbia. As former Ambassador of Jamaica to the United Nations he served two years on the U.N. Security Council. He was Expert Adviser to the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee for three years. He specializes in terrorism/counterterrorism legal and policy frameworks; anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT); sanctions implementation; crime and security; human rights, rule of law and governance. This article was reprinted with permission from The Ward Post.