Ja lottery busts continue

Eight more people have been taken into custody by the Montego Bay, Ja-maica, police in connection with the lucrative lottery scam in St. James.

“There have been ongo-ing operations across the parish, mainly in the Granville, Bogue Village and Bogue Heights areas,” Superintendent John Mor-ris, acting commanding officer for St. James, said Tuesday.

“We are now in the process of doing some forensic examinations of cellphone records and documents that were re-covered.”

The weekend arrests fol-low those of two Montego Bay policemen who were detained on December 2 for reportedly confiscating $97,000 from two key play-ers in the lottery scam without arresting them.

The constables remain in custody pending a ruling from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“We believe that three of the men in the recent ar-rests are major players in the scam,” Supt. Morris added. “Our focus is being intensified to bring a halt to this scam in the (police) division.”

Police say the scheme is being aided by unscrupu-lous information communi-cation technology workers who provide local scam artists with personal in-formation on American clients, who are then conned out of large sums of money under the false im-pression that they are pay-ing for a legitimate service.

“It is a very lucrative business. The players are making between US$4,000 and US$10,000 on average weekly,” Sergeant Carl Brown of the Area One Fraud Squad disclosed to The Gleaner recently.

“The perpetrators are mostly males between ages 18 and 40. Females are also involved in the scam both as collectors, as well as providing the names and critical personal details about the victims.”

Schoolchildren are re-portedly being recruited in the scam to collect monies from remittance outlets.

At least six of the 172 murders recorded in St. James since January have been linked to the scam, also known as ‘Dial Up’ and ‘The Game’.

Intelligence indicates that the proceeds are being used to buy protection from gangs and in the acquisi-tion of illegal guns.

To date, 20 persons have been arrested in connection with the scam.

Eleven of the cases have been adjourned, as local detectives are being handi-capped in the preparation of their cases by the fact that American victims are reluctant to come to Ja-maica and testify in court.

Lynda Langford, coun-try operations manager at Affiliated Computer Ser-vices in the Montego Free-zone, believes that Ja-maica’s ICT sector could be blighted, unless the lottery scam is quickly contained.

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