Do you feel lucky, punk?

(Yes, I know it’s Thursday and I normally post on a Friday, but what with the Easter weekend and all, I thought I couldn’t let you go off hunting eggs without a little thought from me.)

A story from Jamaica caught my eye this week (of my own accord…).  In many ways, it’s a very familiar one: gang runs fraudulent betting ring and lives high on the proceeds.  Twenty arrests, five people already charged, seizures of “five high-end motor vehicles” – I’m guessing this means expensive rather than jacked-up.  But what made me stop and think was the comment by Jamaican Security Minister Peter Bunting: “40% of the murders in St James are related in one way or another to the operation of the lottery scam.  [The parish of St James, with its capital Montego Bay, is the murder centre of Jamaica - there were 190 murders there in 2010.]  And I think it is important for people to make that connection so that there is no tolerance for this kind of activity.  We are generally way too tolerant of criminal activity in Jamaica and sometimes we don’t see the white collar crime as crime at all, we think of it as hustling, but in many cases that white collar crime feeds the violent crime at the street level, one way or another.”

I think Mr Bunting is absolutely right.  I don’t want to come over all prudish and killjoy, but sometimes we are too tolerant of white collar crime.  OK, so “The Sting” and “Hustle” are fun to watch, but not nearly as much fun to live through for the victims.  So in real life let’s not lose sight of the misery that these crimes cause, and – as Mr Bunting says – the way that they fund other, more obviously violent crimes.  Oh, and perhaps don’t book your hols in St James this year – unless you win the lottery, of course.  Winnings to be collected in a dark parking lot just outside Montego Bay.

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