Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Take it down! - Billionaire Lee-Chin in wrangle with fraudsters over online scam

Published:Wednesday | July 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott
Michael Lee-Chin

Jamaican billionaire banker Michael Lee-Chin is said to be stunned by an attempt of fraudsters using his name and image to lure unsuspecting individuals to click on an advertisement, and who themselves become pawns in an online scheme to generate revenues from clicks.

The advertisement, served by AdChoice, prominently features several photos of Lee-Chin and appears in advertisement slots in different sizes on local websites with variations of the text "Generous Philanthropist ... wealthiest Jamaican shares groundbreaking opportunity with all of Jamaica".

Lee-Chin's secretary Trish Trombetta, who spoke to The Gleaner yesterday from Canada, said that the billionaire, also chairman of the Andrew Holness administration's Economic Growth Council, first became aware of the scam on Monday after concerned people began calling to question the legitimacy of the advertisement.

Trombetta said that the entity that is believed to be behind the scam has questionable details surrounding its legitimacy.

"It appears to be placed by an entity going by the name of For the Love of Films, and the contact information for this entity is a fictitious telephone number and the address appears to be some sort of a rental apartment complex," she said.

Trombetta made it clear that the images that were being used in the advertisement were unauthorised and the information being presented to views contain "false and misleading information".

The unauthorised images of Lee-Chin also include a highlighted section with what appears to be a personal cheque with a hand-written dollar amount.

According to Trombetta, an attempt was made to have the advertisement immediately removed, but the request was ignored.

Since then, lawyers from the National Commercial Bank in Kingston and Portland Investments in Canada have directly contacted global business and technology giant, Google, to have the advertisement flagged and removed.

"If we do not get any kind of response from Google, we have to engage external counsel to have [them] taken down," Trombetta warned.

Quizzed by The Gleaner as to whether there has been any business fallout as a result of the misleading advertisement, Trombetta responded, "No, but it's his (Lee-Chin's) integrity. He does not want false and misleading ads placed online because not everyone will know that they are not legitimate."

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com