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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » JAMAICAN POLICE NEED THE TECHNOLOGY TO FIGHT HIGH-TECH LOTTERY SCAMS!

JAMAICAN POLICE NEED THE TECHNOLOGY TO FIGHT HIGH-TECH LOTTERY SCAMS!

BY CONRAD HAMILTON—–

WITH criminals involved in the multi-billion dollar lottery scam resorting to highly sophisticated tactics, the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) says it needs additional resources to sustain the crackdown on those behind the racket, which has further tainted Jamaica’s image overseas.

Speaking Friday at a meeting of the Jamaica Observer’s Press Club, Head of OCID, Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey highlighted the gravity of the scam when he disclosed that last year alone Americans were fleeced of US$300m.

So pervasive has been the crime, that advisories have been issued in sections of the United States warning citizens against accepting calls from Jamaica.

The senior officer says the lottery scam masterminds are using methods which are making it extremely difficult to detect their actions, and is insisting that the police will need to continuously apply new technology in their quest to apprehend suspects.

“We cannot overemphasise the importance of technology in treating with the type of investigations. It’s very expensive to investigate transnational organised crime. If we want to have the proper law enforcement mechanisms in place, if we want to have a police force that is up to international standards, it’s going to take a lot of investment, in terms of putting resources into the organisation,” declared Bailey.

He added that advances in information and communication technology mean the criminals involved in the lottery scam no longer need to operate from a fixed location. According to him, the ‘scammers’ are able to access all types of information using any smartphone and a computer phone jack.

“They are not even using the local numbers any longer, they buy the magic jack (a common brand of phone jack), so the victims don’t see a 876 number (Jamaica’s area code), and therefore believe it’s a US number.

According to him, the days of ‘scammers’ obtaining their victims’ names from local call centres have ended, and have been replaced by the criminals making direct contact with operatives in the United States, who are able to lay hands on the prized lead lists, which contain the names, addresses and other details of potential clients. SSP Bailey spoke of one case in which Jamaicans involved in the lottery scam wired US$64,000 over a three-day period to purchase lead lists from a source based in the United States.

He added that the criminals have also found new ways of laundering the money sent to them by their victims.

“They have people in the US working with them, so even the monies from the lottery scam are no longer sent directly to Jamaica. They do it through a third party in the US, so by the time it reaches Jamaica, you would want to consider it as clean money. And what they are doing also is diverting some of the money to other Caribbean islands, and then guys would go and pick it up and then travel to Jamaica,” Bailey explained.

SSP Bailey also highlighted the need for additional vehicles for the police, as well as continuous training of officers.

The senior officer is also emphasising the need for more partnerships to be established with international law enforcement agencies as well as with local partners, particularly communities across Jamaica.

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