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Scammers held in Montego Bay

Today 14 people who were detained in Montego Bay, St James, during an international sting operation could face police charges.

“Some persons might be charged tomorrow, some will be further interrogated. We have picked up at least one major player in the lotto scam,” said Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey, head of the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID).

High-ranking officials at the United States Embassy in Kingston believe Jamaican lottery scammers fleeced an estimated J$2.5 billion from their victims in 2008 alone.

So massive were the illegal swindling operations that the Americans had to fly special agents and dedicated analysts to Jamaica in a bid to combat the scammers.

The key lotto ‘scammer’ operates an auto parts business in Montego Bay, and has an extensive real-estate portfolio that includes high-end properties in Bogue Village and Ironshore, St James, and Richmond Estate in St Ann.

The targeted operation was carried out as part of measures to clamp down on the illicit lottery scam in Montego Bay. The initiative involved OCID, agents from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Postal Security and personnel from the Jamaica Customs Enforcement Team.

The team was also active in the western city for a second consecutive day yesterday but came up empty-handed.

“We continued some secondary operations today but no additional persons were picked up,” added Bailey.

Motor vehicles, including a 2012 white Mercedes-Benz, a 2007 Rav4, 1995 Toyota Corolla and a 2000 Nissan Sunny, along with various documents and equipment linked to the lottery scam, were seized on Wednesday.

Several premises in Bogue Village, Granville, Catherine Hall and Mount Salem, Montego Bay, were also searched, and a quantity of marijuana and 17 pellets of hash oil wrapped in condoms were found. The team also seized more than US$3,000 in cash, laptops and cellular phones.

PHOTO:  Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey


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