Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Lotto Scam Task Force is working, says Sup't Clunis

Published:Saturday | July 20, 2013 | 12:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:Head of the Lottery Scam Task Force, Superintendent Leon Clunis, says contrary to public criticism, his unit has been actively pursuing the apprehension of persons involved in the illegal lottery scam activities, especially in western Jamaica, and is reaping success.

"We have not been asleep. It is just that we are strategic. We know when to be discreet and to be silent, and we know when to speak and show our hand," Clunis told Western Focus.

He said since the enactment of the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act of 2013, his unit has been able to arrest and charge 33 persons, 10 of whom are alleged to be major players in the illicit lottery scam. He said five other persons are pending charges under the new legislation, and that his unit was awaiting the fulfilment of certain investigative requirements by the Cybercrimes Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). He said the arrested persons should face the courts within a few months.

"I was given a mandate to deal with the lottery scam, and part of that mandate was the task force effort. We never had the resources to work with; we never had the laws. When I did the analysis and saw what we had to work with, there was actually nothing. So these guys (scammers) were driving around, living some flamboyant lifestyles, using champagne to wash car rims, and carrying on," he said.

"Because we had absolutely nothing working with, and we were given basket to carry water, we had to come up with a strategy to disrupt the activity and force the hand of the legislators to give me something to work with based on the kinds of crimes that were destroying the country's image," he added.

The Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act of 2013 came into being on March 28 this year and carries penalties of up to 25 years' imprisonment for persons involved in lottery-scamming activities.

MAJOR OPERATION

Last Saturday, the Lottery Scam Task Force led a major operation in Montego Bay which resulted in the arrest of four persons, including two women. According to Clunis, the pre-dawn simultaneous intelligence-led operation was carried out in the communities of Rhyne Park, Rose Heights, Lilliput, and Rosemont Gardens in St James where 12 residences were searched. Sixteen cellular phones and four laptop computers allegedly used for lottery-scamming activities were seized.

Four persons, including two women, were taken into custody during the raid. Those arrested were a 46-year-old woman said to be the mother of an alleged lottery scammer as well as the scammer's 23-year-old girlfriend. They were arrested after two five-gallon buckets of vegetable matter resembling ganja as well as 84 small plastic bags with the weed, two ganja plants, and $268,500 in cash were allegedly found at their home in Pachung in Lilliput.

The other two are another alleged scammer, 30, of Rhyne Park, who was taken into custody under breaches of the Road Traffic Act after he was found to have 11 outstanding traffic tickets; and a 22-year- old of Rose Heights, who was nabbed after a Magic Jack, a cell phone, and a computer appearing to be connected to lotto scamming, were found in his possession. According to Clunis, both men had been taken into custody in 2012 on suspicion of being involved in scamming activities but were later released.