Written by CBC NEWS Tuesday, 07 August 2012 16:07
Western Union International has ordered its 14 operators in the western parish of St James to close businesses as investigations continue into the multi-billion dollar lottery scam.
Western Union said the operations would remain closed until they implement security measures capable of combating the scam.
GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS), which holds the Western Union franchise for the Caribbean, said customers in the second city and surrounding areas may use other Western Unions in the neighbouring parishes of Hanover and Trelawny.
In addition to closing all branches in St James, GKMS said the entire local Western Union market would be reviewed.
“We understand it's going to be a challenge, however unfortunately there is really nothing we can do about it at this time. It’s an international measure and we are in agreement because we do have to do a system review,” said GKMS chief operating officer Michelle Allen, adding the move is an international measure.
“We do have to apologise to those customers and I think the entire Jamaica can understand our move if we believe there is some system abuse, we have to correct it in the shortest possible time.”
Jamaica has been placed in the international spotlight after criminals utilised the service to lure United States citizens to send money. Thousands of people have fallen prey to the illegal scam.
Law enforcement authorities have linked more than 600 murders to lottery scamming over the past five years.
Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and former president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Joseph M. Matalon, have blamed the illegal lottery scam for not only tarnishing Jamaica's image, but threatening the fledging call centre industry which was being undermined by the perpetrators.
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