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DPP wants possession of lottery scam materials criminalised

Published:Monday | November 12, 2012 | 8:30 AM

Jerome Reynolds, Gleaner Writer

Government prosecutors have recommended that it be made a criminal offence for people to possess lead sheets and other materials used in the lottery scam.

Lead lists are sheets of papers with credit card and other personal information which are used by scammers in carrying out their illicit activities.

The recommendation is contained in a report by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Justice Minister Mark Golding.

It comes as Jamaica continues to gain international attention because of the lottery scam, and amid failed attempts by local authorities to significantly curb the crime.

The DPP says people possessing lead lists and similar items without direct relationship to their occupation are presumed to be doing so in order to engage in unlawful conduct.

Under the lottery scam, unscrupulous persons obtain information on their victims, and contact them under the guise that they have won huge cash prizes.

The perpetrators then ask their victims to wire or mail the processing fees so that they can retrieve the reward.

The Office of the DPP has also recommended that Jamaica adopt legislation such as the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act which is being used by Nigeria.

It says the legislation will provide the framework to deal directly with the activities connected to the lottery scam.

The DPP also wants car dealers, real estate agents and contractors who engage in large financial transactions to be included on the list of entities which must report suspicious and unusual transactions.

At present only financial institutions are required to report suspicious transactions.

In the meantime, the Office of the DPP is calling for specialized judges to deal with technical matters related to fraud, cybercrimes and cloud computing.

It says this would eventually lead to the establishment of special courts to deal with these matters in the long term.

The DPP says Judges, Resident Magistrates, Clerks of Court, police investigators and personnel from the Financial Investigations Division should be trained as part of the coordinated effort to combat the lottery scam.

Yesterday, The Sunday Gleaner reported that scammers were now turning to the postal service as the authorities were making it more difficult for them to use remittance services.

Statistics obtained from the Customs Department reveal that between January 2010 and October 2012, suspicious parcels containing cash, cheques, money orders and other monetary instruments were valued at US$2.02 million (J$183.5 million) and £2,140.

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