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Ailing American stopped at airport with US$10,000 - 18-year-old alleged scam boss held in sting operation

Published:Monday | June 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

 Adrian Frater, News Editor

Western Bureau:

The cruel underbelly of the illicit lottery scam came to the fore at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay yesterday when a 54-year-old wheelchair-mobile American, who is suffering through advanced Parkinson's disease and diminished mental capacity, was intercepted with close to US$10,000, which he brought into the island to pay a 'scammer' to claim a fictitious lottery prize.

However, thanks to a sting operation carried out by the local Custom Enforcement Team (CET) and the Anti-Lottery Scam Task Force at the airport, three men, including an 18-year-old, who is believed to be the mastermind, were held and taken into police custody. The trio are from Spicy Hill district in Trelawny.

"The fact that this man (the mastermind) was cruel enough to lure this obviously sick man to travel to Jamaica shows how heartless some of these scammers are," said Corporal Kevin Watson, the media and communication liaison officer for the Anti-Lottery Scam Task Force.

According to Watson, when the American arrived at the airport and was quizzed by the CET about the money in his possession, he told them that the money was to pay an agent from a lottery company to claim winnings.

"Based on what he told us, he had previously paid out several thousands of US dollars to the 18-year-old scammer over the past three years," said Watson. "He further told us that the agent would be sending somebody to pick him up at the airport."

lured the mastermind

With the cooperation of the American, a sting operation was set up by the CET and Anti-Lottery Scam Task Force. A taxi operator who came to pick him up at the airport was held, and after deciding to cooperate, lured the mastermind to a section of the airport.

"When he (the mastermind) showed up in his high-end vehicle, he, along with a man who was travelling with him, was held," said Watson. "All three men were taken back to Trelawny where we searched four houses in Spicy Hill, including a split-level luxury home owned by the 18-year-old mastermind."

While nothing of evidentiary value was found at the houses in Trelawny, Watson said that based on telephone evidence, the task force has enough to charge at least the alleged mastermind.

"We are withholding all names at this time, as we have not yet charged any of the men," said Watson, who said he was getting cooperation from all the parties involved.

"We will be questioning the men in the presence of their attorneys before charges are laid."

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com