Adrian Frater, News Editor
Under pressure, lotto scammers in western Jamaica are reportedly selling off their expensive assets cheaply in a bid to fall below the radar of the security forces, who have been pursuing them relentlessly in recent months.
"They (the scammers) are in full panic mode at this time," a police source told The Gleaner yesterday. "Some of them are trying to hide their assets while others are selling them off cheaply in a bid to shed their expensive lifestyle ... they are running real scared."
The claim by the lawman has been confirmed by several persons with an intimate knowledge of the illicit scheme, by which unsuspecting American citizens are fleeced of millions of dollars under the guise that they had won a Jamaican lottery and needed to pay a processing fee to collect their winnings.
"Right now, you can get a car that is valued at over $2.5 million for about $1 million," one source said. "They are letting go cars and other valuables like hot bread."
Since last October, the Area One police, who have since teamed up with the Organised Crime Investigation Division, the Mobile Reserve, the Constabulary Financial Unit and the Jamaica Defence Force have been staging targeted raids aimed at breaking the back of the illicit scheme and arresting the persons involved.
In the operations carried out to date, more than 80 persons, primarily from St James, have been arrested and millions of dollars in assets, including high-end vehicles, jewellery, electronic items, seized.