Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Funds taken from elderly US citizen forfeited to government

Published:Wednesday | February 1, 2017 | 2:11 AM

A judge has given the go-ahead for the government to take possession of US$15,270 or close to J$1.9 million, which the police say was taken from a United States citizen just moments before she could hand it over to suspected lottery scammers.

The Financial Investigations Division (FID) says the cash was taken from 60-year-old Dianne Owens shortly after her arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston in May 2014.

The forfeiture order was reportedly made in the Kingston Parish Court last week.

According to the FID, Owens told the police she brought the money to Jamaica to pay for wedding preparations.

However, the agency says the police quickly became suspicious after Owens revealed that she arrived on the last flight into Jamaica that day and was set to leave the following day on the first flight out.

In addition, it says the police reported that Owens admitted that she had never met her fiancé and that they found two men in a car outside the airport waiting to pick her up.

The three were reportedly taken into custody and interviewed.

The FID says Owens then changed her account and admitted to investigators that she was informed that she was the winner of a lottery and was advised to send money to several persons in Jamaica to collect her winnings.

The agency said neither Owens nor the two men turned up in court to contest the application to have the cash forfeited.

The case marks the second time in the last two weeks a judge has ordered that cash seized by the police be handed over to the government.

On January 18, a Parish Judge also ordered that cash amounting to just over J$1 million, which was taken from the home of self-styled businessman Daraine Clayton in 2011, should be forfeited to the State.