(AP) Attackers killed six members of the same family and set their clapboard home on fire in northern Jamaica, and the island’s security minister on Friday linked the massacre to the island’s international lottery scam crime rings.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force said the dead in the Logwood section of Hanover parish included two teenagers and a 62-year-old man. The bodies were found in the rubble of the burned house. Four other occupants of the home were being treated for burns, with two reported in critical condition
Police did not provide specifics about the case or say anything about a motive.
However, National Security Minister Peter Bunting linked the killings to Jamaican scam rings that generally prey on elderly people in the United States by coercing money from them after tricking victims into thinking they won a lottery.
Authorities say clashes among rival rings have long been responsible for the majority of homicides in northern parishes of the Caribbean island where many of the criminals are based.
Bunting said the slayings in Logwood were an example of “how much of a danger lottery scamming is to the security of our country.”
This “heinous crime shows that scamming not only affects those who participate and directly profit from it, but those who associate with them, even where those associations are distant,” he said.
Authorities have lately made progress capturing lottery scam suspects. Earlier this year, Jamaica extradited its first lottery scam suspect to the U.S. But the fraud rings are still flourishing, typically targeting retired people.
The scam often works like this: A caller tells a victim they have won millions in an overseas lottery, but first must wire a few hundred dollars to cover the taxes. Payments then lead to other requests for money. As victims try to recover losses, scammers even pose as police and say they need cash to aid the investigation.