The task force that has been set up to go after lottery scammers has made major dents in their operations, working under the newly formed Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption (MOCA) unit.
Giving an update on the successes, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says that members have seized important documents, equipment and machines used in lotto scamming activities.
“The Anti-Lottery Scam Task Force carried out some 39 major operations last year, which seriously disrupted several criminal networks engaging in scamming. The task force recovered lead lists with approximately 1.2 million names; arrested 367 persons, charged some 100 persons for related offences, seized $32.6 million in cash, 121 motor vehicles, 124 computers, 577 cell phones, 30 magic jacks and two illegal firearms,” the Minister reported.
Senator Golding was speaking on Thursday, February 28, at a breakfast forum held at Sandals Montego Bay, and organized by the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ).
The Minister said that the anti-scamming initiatives have been bolstered by the provision of funding, technical assistance, training opportunities, and equipment to strengthen the capacity to identify, arrest and prosecute scammers.
“These include vehicles, ballistic vests, computers and office equipment, and funding the implementation of technology in nine Courts to facilitate the use of live video link to enable vulnerable witnesses to provide their testimony from remote locations,” Senator Golding told the audience.
The Minister said that in addition to legislation, the Government will also be embarking on a public education drive to discourage young people from entering the illegal activity.
“A secondary schools outreach campaign to discourage involvement in the lotto scam or any other fraudulent activity, is coming soon. This will be done in collaboration with the Ministries of Education, and Youth and Culture, and the private sector,” Senator Golding said.
The MOCA has been tasked with dismantling the lotto scamming scheme, denting organized criminal syndicates by targeting the profits made from illicit activities, and identifying and charging their facilitators who may corrupt public officials or senior persons in the private sector.
Membership is drawn from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Financial Investigations Division (FID), Customs, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The group has received significant support from the United States Government, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and US Department of the Treasury (DOT).