Scammers using guest houses to elude cops
The police are cautioning the owners of guest houses or other persons who knowingly rent their property to lottery scammers to facilitate illegal activities that they could be liable for prosecution.
The warning comes against the background of lottery scammers who are now operating from rented properties such as guest houses in a bid to elude law-enforcement teams.
On Thursday, the police arrested seven persons for breaches of the Law Reform Fraudulent Transactions (Special Provisions) Act (lottery scamming) at a guest house in Orange Bay, Hanover.
"The seven persons we have arrested at this guest house include the proprietor," said Corporal Kevin Watson, public relations officer for the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) West, which carried out the operation. "We have noticed in recent times that scammers have been diversifying their activities to include renting special premises, specifically to carry out their lottery-scamming activities in an effort to keep the activities a secret."
Based on police intelligence, it has been discovered that scammers from St James have been targeting guest houses in Hanover, Negril, St Elizabeth, and as far away as Mandeville to carry out their illicit operations to bamboozle unsuspecting American citizens, especially the elderly, into sending them money for processing lottery payouts they have been tricked to believe they have won.
"We want to send out a strong warning to Jamaicans to be careful of the persons they rent their premises to," said Watson. "Anyone who knowingly rents or permits their premises to be used for lottery-scamming activities will also be liable for prosecution."
DOCUMENTS, LAPTOPS FOUND
In the MOCA operation at the Orange Bay guest house, the lawmen found several documents containing personal information of American citizens, along with several cellular phones, laptops and tablets, and $82,000, which is believed to be proceeds from lottery scamming.
"We will be questioning these seven persons in the presence of their attorneys before formal charges are laid against them," said Watson.
The police are blaming the recent upsurge in violence in several previously peaceful communities across western Jamaica on migrating lottery scammers, many of whom have criminal antecedents in their home parishes.
This week's killing of 14-year-old Rhodes Hall High student Leon Grant and 20-year-old Travis McKenzie, who were murdered when gunmen invaded their Malcolm Heights home, also in Hanover, is believed to be the work of scammers.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Artel Colley, the commanding officer for the Hanover Police Division, initial investigations point to the illicit scam. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident.