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Anti-lottery ‘school campaign’ reaping rewards ... 6-y-o changes mind about wanting to be a scammer

Published:Thursday | April 28, 2016 | 4:00 AMOkoye Henry

Western Bureau:

The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) anti-lottery scam educational campaign has reportedly targeted close to 50 schools and interacted with more than 10,000 students since the initiative was launched in the Area One Police Division in 2015.

The programme's convener, Corporal Kevin Watson, told The Gleaner recently that the project has been reaping success in terms of reforming the mindset of many young people, who are being educated about the ills of the illicit scheme, which is having a damaging impact on the country.

In January of last year, the initial leg of the programme commenced in several schools in St James, which is the established epicentre of the lottery scam.

Since then, MOCA, in partnership with the

Jamaica Constabulary Force's Community Safety and Security Branch, has spread the message in institutions both at the primary and secondary levels across the Area One Police Division, which includes St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, and Trelawny.

"I am requesting that we revisit these schools, especially in St James, because if you notice, many of these schools have persons who come from communities that are affected by the whole activity of lottery scamming," said Watson.

A CHANGE OF HEART

He noted that Salt Spring Primary, Glendevon Primary, Albion Primary, Green Pond High, St James High, Maldon High, and Anchovy High were among the many institutions visited in St James.

"In one school, a six-year-old boy expressed that he wanted to become a scammer when we just went there, but by the time we finished our presentation, he came to me and said that he wanted to become a police officer," said Watson.

"I said, 'Are you going to become a police officer and help us to arrest criminals, especially scammers?' He said to me that he would arrest criminals, but he doesn't know if he would arrest the scammers," said Watson.

"It shows, though, that the message is getting across, and why this little boy would not want to arrest scammers is probably because he has a family member who is involved."

Watson outlined that many students who, at first, believed lottery scamming to be an accepted behaviour, tended to change their opinion on the matter following the police's presentations. This, he said, was positive indication that the message was being received by youth to stay away from the illicit activity.