TAR­GET

‘Scam­mer’ puts out hit on anti-lot­tery task force boss Cop says he is not wor­ried

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE -

ATOP-TIER leader in the il­licit lot­tery scam who is said to be fac­ing an ex­tra­di­tion war­rant is­sued by the United States gov­ern­ment has re­port­edly placed a bounty on the head of Sergeant Kevin Wat­son, who heads the lo­cal Anti-Lot­tery Scam Task Force. “Based on in­tel­li­gence that has come to our at­ten­tion, this man (the un­named scam­mer) has paid over a large sum of money to a gang in the western city to kill Sergeant Wat­son,” a high-level po­lice source told The Gleaner yes­ter­day. “We con­sider this as a cred­i­ble threat and we are putting the req­ui­site mea­sures in place to en­sure the safety of Sergeant Wat­son.”

While not giv­ing away im­por­tant de­tails, the po­lice source told The Gleaner that the scam­mer was named on a list of al­leged per­pe­tra­tors for whom the US gov­ern­ment has is­sued ex­tra­di­tion war­rants in re­cent months. He said eight of

the per­sons on the list have al­ready been ap­pre­hended.

“This man is now on the run, but we are track­ing him,” the po­lice source said. “As you might know, these guys have a lot of re­sources at their dis­posal, so they are able to move from one lo­ca­tion to an­other with rel­a­tive ease ... . None­the­less, we hope we will catch up to him sooner than later.”

The po­lice source said he be­lieved the amount was sub­stan­tial, be­cause the of­fer was enough to at­tract the at­ten­tion of a ma­jor gang.

“Our un­der­stand­ing is that it is much more than a mil­lion dol­lars ... . It could be as much as $5 mil­lion,” the source said. “We also un­der­stand that the money has al­ready been paid to the gang, which is based in one of Montego Bay’s in­ner-city com­mu­ni­ties but has ties to Matthews Lane in Kingston.”

NOT WOR­RIED

When Wat­son was con­tacted about the threat yes­ter­day, he told The Gleaner that he was aware of it and had started tak­ing ex­tra pre­cau­tions to pro­tect him­self.

“I have been in­volved as a wit­ness in the over­seas cases against some of the scam­mers who have been ex­tra­dited, so I guess that makes me a tar­get for their cronies and the other scam­mers who are now on the run,” said Wat­son. “When I joined the po­lice force, I knew the risk I was tak­ing, so while I am nat­u­rally con­cerned, I am not wor­ried.

“Scam­ming is do­ing sig­nif­i­cant harm to Ja­maica’s in­ter­na­tional im­age and is pos­ing a threat to es­tab­lished in­dus­tries such as tourism and the BPO (busi­ness process out­sourc­ing) sec­tors, so, as a pa­tri­otic Ja­maican, I want to do some­thing about it,” said Wat­son. “This threat only makes me more de­ter­mined to go out and ap­pre­hend these scam­mers so that they can face jus­tice.”

The lot­tery scam is an il­licit scheme through which lo­cal con artists in­duce un­sus­pect­ing Americans, es­pe­cially the el­derly, into send­ing them money un­der the guise that they have won a mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar Ja­maican lot­tery and need to pay pro­cess­ing fees to have the funds re­leased.

Amer­i­can lawen­force­ment of­fi­cials es­cort­ing al­leged lotto scam­mer, 28year-old Damion Bar­rett of Nor­wood, St James, out of the is­land last year to an­swer charges re­lated to the il­licit ac­tiv­ity.

This dark BMW X6 is be­lieved to be the ve­hi­cle that was in­volved in the in­ci­dent in which Kha­jeel Mais was shot and killed in 2011.

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