NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Peter Bunting has said the indictment of Oneike Mickhale Barnett, a Jamaican national, by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a result of the joint efforts between the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA) and US law-enforcement agencies.
"This outcome demonstrates both the improved investigative capabilities MOCA is bringing to the fight against lottery scammers, as well as the willingness of US law enforcement to prosecute Jamaican lottery scammers in their jurisdiction," Bunting told The Gleaner on Thursday.
Barnett was arrested based on charges that he and his co-conspirators ran a lottery scam in Jamaica that fraudulently induced elderly victims in the United States to send them thousands of dollars to cover fees for lottery winnings that victims had not in fact won.
He was charged with conspiracy and 37 counts of wire fraud, and with committing these offences via telemarketing. If convicted, he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years per count, a possible fine, and mandatory restitution.
Bunting warned that the Jamaican authorities will not be easing up in their quest to crush the lottery scam.
"These scammers will not be allowed to prey on vulnerable elderly US citizens with impunity, while financing violent crime in Jamaica with their proceeds. They will be pursued relentlessly until they are brought to justice," Bunting told The Gleaner.
According to the indictment, Barnett convinced victims to send money to middlemen in South Florida, who forwarded the money to Jamaica.