Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
While the authorities are closely monitoring transactions at Western Union outlets in Montego Bay, St James, members of the Lottery Scam Task Force struck again yesterday, detaining eight persons, seizing more than US$13,000, J$250,000, three motor vehicles, two high-power motorcycles and 2,319 uncustomed cigars.
"The detainees are being processed, some of whom will be charged later," Sergeant Camille Tracey told The Gleaner shortly after the operations ended yesterday afternoon.
The Gleaner further understands that several cellular phones and computers have also been seized. Reports are that the pre-dawn operations were conducted simultaneously across three communities; Lilliput, Red Ground and Bogue Village.
An officer who was on the operation explained that in Lilliput, a three-storey building under construction was searched and the three cars - two Toyota Corollas and a Honda CR-V, two 600 CBR motorcycles, the cigars and the cash were found. Six persons, including three women, were detained.
Over the past four months, the Lottery Scam Task Force has been on the heels of a number of suspects implicated in the scamming of scores of persons in the United States, conning them out of millions of dollars.
On Wednesday, it was announced that residents of St James would be restricted to sending or receiving a maximum of US$400, as Western Union International had instructed its local operators, GraceKennedy Financial Services, to implement tighter control measures in the face of blatant lottery scamming by a number of its customers.
Just over a week ago, the international agency was forced to order the closure of 14 locations in St James.
Three of those stores - GRS Financial Group, Hometown FSC and Mega Mart - have now reopened under the stricter rules.
The agency said it would strive to reopen additional locations in the impacted region.