Cops fingered in lottery scam

Operation Kingfish says it is now targeting several police personnel who are involved in the deadly lottery scam operating out of Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica.

The head of the high-profile unit, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Glenmore Hinds, told The Gleaner Sunday that investigators were preparing to make further arrests in the case.

This follows a number of raids on Thursday that netted 32 people.

Fourteen of those arrested are believed to be key figures in the scam, and they will begin undergoing questioning in Kingston today.

“We are looking at all the persons involved in the scam and we realise that a single operation would not net all of them so it is an ongoing operation,” said ACP Hinds.

“We know that it spreads far and wide and also across different social groupings and types of employment.”

Already the scam has shaken confidence in Jamaica’s information communication technology sector.

Those involved are said to be closely linked to the notorious Stone Crusher gang in St. James, and ACP Hinds says he is confident that some of the masterminds are among those now in police custody.

The scam works by convincing elderly Americans that they have won the Jamaican lottery. They are then persuaded to wire funds so that their ‘winnings’ can be processed.

The lottery scam is reportedly being facilitated by unscrupulous ICT employees passing on personal information on American clients.

The police have disclosed that those involved, mostly males aged 18-40, make US$4,000 to $10,000, weekly.

During the simultaneous joint military/police raids in St. James and Hanover last week more than $1 million in cash, nine high-end motor cars, cellular phones, computers and documents were seized in Granville, Bogue Village, Westgate Hills and an establishment on Harbour Street in downtown Montego Bay.

The lucrative scheme has also been linked to several murders in the St. James Police Division.

Lynda Langford, country operations manager at Affiliated Computer Services, which operates 749 other locations around the world, said last year that the scam could force her company to pull out of Jamaica, costing over 1,400 jobs.

Before last week’s raids there were more than 20 arrests but the reluctance of American victims to travel to Jamaica to testify in the local courts forced eleven of the cases to be adjourned.