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Season 1:Yaad 2023,Episode 3: Uptown ‘Tief’. A surge of employee fraud at financial Institutions.

Whenever I am asked, how do you like living in Jamaica, my response has always been, ’It is a cultural experience.” As an island girl through and through, there is an extra flair and flamboyance about Jamaicans, the way they go about their business bold and proud, finding humour in every single situation and their hustle. Their hustling mentality is the colloquial entrepreneurial spirit which is passed down from generation to generation. Like a sweeping breeze roaming at night, not a single house is left untouched by the ‘spirit of the hustle.’
Hustle in Jamaica to many Jamaicans is a way of life, legal or illegal. As long as it gives you the opportunity to ‘eat a food.’

As we tune in daily for the updates on Season 1 of Yaad: 2023, we started the season with, Gold Rush in Hanover; declared the mineral found as platinum, diamond, and gold all in one without any formal testing. Episode 3, aptly named Uptown thief, has garnered worldwide attention and coverage. It is riveting. We tune in daily for updates on the ‘frightening’ disappearance of Bolt’s and other citizens’ billions. What a plot twist which has garnered collective public outrage. It is one thing to circumvent the system, but to defraud Billions of dollars from a Legend/Icon/GOAT who has solidified Jamaica’s reign as the sprint capital of the world is beyond the ‘hustler’ culture Jamaicans will tolerate.

So, while we watch eagerly and continue to search for Bolt’s Billions, amid other white-collar thief ongoing at other institutions; women have been the main culprit. There is a plethora of conversations surrounding how did we – we as a people – we as women get to this point of fraudulent activities. Scandal after scandal, from one financial institution to the next, internal employee fraud has been prevalent in news streams over the last three years in Jamaica. Globally, according to the and, internal employee fraud has increased approximately 21% - 34% since the COVID-19 pandemic. From inventory fraud to monetary fraud, the uncertainty of Covid-19 ushered an increase in employee theft.

It is not lost on anyone, that in Jamaica particularly, women are the headliners. In all fairness, women outnumber men at most financial institutions, nevertheless it does not take away from the act. These acts have derailed public trust in the banking/financial sector noting it was already a thin line.

While we can attribute the unfavourable increase of one more thing to Covid-19, quite a number of these schemes were ongoing for years before the pandemic. Thus, the question remains, what has been motivating these ‘heist’ with women at the fore? Conversations about this always comes back to similar conclusions – with Social Media being a frontrunner. Have we become enamoured with the portrayal of highlight reels and glamorized lives? This new era of, I must win and show the world that I am winning regardless of what it takes to do so, is costing so many women and their families tremendous heartache and grief in the long run. There are many examples of women, of all hues, sizes and economic backgrounds around us who are genuinely winning. Who over the years toiled and nurtured seeds planted to reap these benefits. Why then do some limit their beliefs in thinking wealth and fortune can be achieved over night through scamming.

Finger pointing at social media raises further concerns, should we then hold our influencers accountable to declare how they’re able to achieve these levels of luxury? To divulge all the marketing perks etc. Is this even fair to place such an enormous responsibility on an content creator? Undoubtedly, social media has major influence, but how we internalize and absorb the things we consume daily cannot be the responsibility of any content creator.

Changed behaviour takes time. It begins with re-programming the mindset. This goes deeper than social media. Collectively we need to re-examine the definition of “hustling” and “eat a food mentality” which is systematically ingrained in the culture. It goes further than harsher penalties for white collar theft and companies assuring customers that any funds lost doe to internal fraud will be returned.

How can we build values as deeply ingrained in our psyche like that of hustling? It begins from parenting, socialization and a society which values and prioritizes accountability and doing things ethically.
As we continue to tune in to unravel the scandal, let’s practice gratitude daily for all we are so richly blessed with. There is beauty in gratitude for what you have while simultaneously working to achieve more.

On a practical note,
i. Check your bank/investment accounts daily.
ii. Do not share your passwords with anyone not even your wealth advisor or banker.
iii. Do not add others to your account, if you absolutely must; ensure it is dual custody, so two signatures are required for every transaction.
iv. Request online banking, and always verify you are the only person who can view your account online, even if you are not tech saavy, do not share online log-in info with anyone.
v. Do a quarterly audit of all your accounts, verify all charges and transactions which do not look familiar.
vi. Ask a lot of questions, you don’t know what you don’t know, so ask no matter how trivial.
vii. Have different contacts, no matter how comfortable you are with you advisor always have someone else at the institution you can call just to verify if you want to do so.
viii. Trust your gut, our sixth sense gives us clues when things don’t seem right.

As Popcaan says, “Mi only trust the bank and God”, let’s try to live up to that.

I would love to hear from you, what is your take on the current SSL matter.



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