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Schools embracing anti-lotto scam message out west

Published:Monday | August 1, 2016 | 8:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Kevin Watson

WESTERN BUREAU:

Buoyed by the growing success of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency's (MOCA) anti-lottery scam campaign in schools in western Jamaica, the convener of the project, Sergeant Kevin Watson, now wants to take the campaign islandwide.

"What I would like to see is that these kinds of presentations (on lottery scamming) are done on an islandwide basis, and not only for the western parishes," said Watson, who is also MOCA's liaison officer.

"This is a long-term strategy, so what you can hope for is that the children remain on the right path. But as it relates to educating them about the criminality and immorality of lotto scamming, the message has been received," Watson continued. "I would definitely want to see this become a regular thing for the police's Community Safety and Security Branch, and also to expand it with media coverage, to let it be known what we are doing to help curb crime and violence."

Watson said the education campaign, which was launched in January 2015 in the Area One Police Division, where lottery scam-related crimes are most prominent, has received a plethora of support from several interest groups, including schools that MOCA has not yet visited.

FOREIGN SUPPORT

"We have had the USAID [United States Agency for International Development] coming on board and supporting these presentations, and we are also getting support from other entities ... we are anticipating that we will continue to get good support," said Watson. "I have been getting requests from schools, churches and other institutions to come and talk and make presentations on the criminality and immorality of the activities of lottery scamming."

He added:"We have got some great feedback from the teachers and faculties of these schools (where the programme has been taken), and I think we are greatly breaking that tradition in which students, especially high-school students, get involved in the activities of lottery scamming and continue after leaving school."

The initial leg of MOCA's education programme was taken to the Glendevon, Salt Spring, Green Pond and Albion primary schools in St James, where members of the MOCA team engaged students in activities designed to educate them on the dangers of the lottery scam.

Since the campaign's initial launch, 50 schools have been targeted for education on the lottery scam. So far, MOCA has interacted with over 10,000 students.