The police have their eyes on approximately 12,000 to 15,000 Jamaicans who are suspected of being involved in lottery scamming, three times the number of scamming cases that the United States Government is already investigating.
Security minister Robert Montague made the revelation yesterday at his post-sectoral debate press conference at his ministry in Kingston, where he said that local law enforcement teams were maintaining pressure on lottery scammers.
Montague said he was not surprised at revelations by a representative of the US Government on Wednesday that the Americans were investigating 5,000 cases involving Jamaicans in the multimillion-dollar lottery scam.
Speaking Wednesday with journalists at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston while eight Jamaicans were being put on a flight to North Dakota to answer to scamming charges, Joshua Polacheck, counsellor for public affairs at the United States Embassy in Kingston, said there were thousands of cases under investigation.
“… Right now hundreds of cases have already been prosecuted internationally and here in Jamaica. We have hundreds of extraditions pending in the United States, and we expect to see a steady flow of people going up to the United States to face justice for this crime,” Polacheck said.
Montague, meanwhile, said the lottery scamming task force has been reconvened. “We are going to be targeting lottery scamming this year, and we will leave no stone unturned. As a state we have to respond,” he stated.
On Wednesday, Polacheck said: “Right now we have dozens of extradition cases that are already at the extradition level, and another 300 to 500 cases that are at the pre-extradition stage, so between the Jamaican investigation and the investigation in the United States we are looking at as much as 3,000 to 5,000 active investigations.”
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck last month signed the extradition orders for the eight alleged scammers who are believed to be part of one of the country's largest lottery scamming rings, allegedly led by Lavric Willocks, who was himself extradited to the US in January. Flown to the US Wednesday were: ex-policeman Jason Jahalal, 27; Dario Palmer, 25; Alrick McLeod, 31; O'Neil Brown, 32; Willock's mother, Dahlia Hunter; her other son, Kazrae Gray; and daughters-in-law Xanu Ann Morgan, 24, and Kimberly Hudson, 26.
Willocks pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering in US District Court in the North Dakota, and was jailed pending trial, which was set for the end of April. The 27-year-old and his alleged cronies are said to have swindled 70 mainly elderly US citizens out of millions of dollars.