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Social intervention in crime fighting is extremely vital

Monday, October 09, 2017

Brer Anansi, the 'ginnal' and con man, has always commanded a grudging respect and admiration among Jamaicans.

Brer Anansi is smart and street wise, constantly using his brains to ruthlessly outwit 'fool fool' others.

That aspect of the Jamaican psyche perhaps partly explains the success with which scammers have been able to put down roots and thrive since the business of fleecing people — particularly the elderly and na´ve in North America — using fake stories became popular early in the 21st century.

There has even been the devilish suggestion in some quarters that fleecing white people is justifiable since Africans were trafficked and enslaved by Europeans in the 19th century and for centuries before that.

Scamming has also taken hold largely because of the material wealth it brings to communities in the short term.

As was outlined in yesterday's Sunday Observer story, 'A Scammer's Regret', successful practitioners typically make lots of money and spend freely. In a context where usually law-abiding people find themselves benefiting from wrongdoing, they may be tempted to condone it and protect the perpetrators.

That scenario can become prevalent where most people are impoverished and also where businesses profit from the flow of 'easy come, easy go' cash.

As former mayor of Black River, Mr Jeremy Palmer, recently pointed out, this very real hurdle involving the material benefits to those who provide sanctuary to criminals is something needful of closer scrutiny.

Of course, many soon come to regret supporting scammers because of associated violence. Scammers, being scammers, often end up stealing from, or undermining others of similar ilk, which will often lead to feuding and bloodletting, hence the frighteningly high murder rates in sections of western and central Jamaica.

Friends and companions of targeted people and other innocent people, who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, sometimes lose their lives when killers strike.

Mr Joe Scamo (not his real name) — the subject of an exclusive piece on scamming written by Mr Kevin Jackson in yesterday's Sunday Observer — suggests that while he was involved in scamming he feared for his life. Even now that he has left the activity behind him he is apparently dogged by fear.

Intriguingly, Mr Scamo tells us he always thought he had a back door because of his relatively high level of education.

Said he: “Within the six years that I was involved, I saw a lot of young, uneducated people who gave up on school just to get into the game. They were using the proceeds to buy guns. They were earning big money. But I felt that if I got out of this I could fall back on my education.”

That is exactly what he did in the end. He fell back on his education.

The frightening thing is that so many others involved in scamming and other criminal activities do not feel they have an option in terms of earning a living because of their low level of education and poor social upbringing.

This just re-emphasises the absolute importance of social intervention in crime fighting measures, be it zones of special operations or any other.

The basic needs of people must be addressed. And, most of all, Jamaica's children must be properly educated and socialised.