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Scamming on rise in Clarendon, say police

BY OSHANE TOBIAS Observer staff reporter tobiaso@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 20, 2012    

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MAY PEN, Clarendon — Police in Clarendon are advising residents to be on the look-out for scammers whom they believe are expanding their operation from western Jamaica to this mid-island parish.

Head of the Clarendon Police Division, Senior Superintendent Michael Bailey, said several persons had been arrested recently for alleged involvement in Ponzi schemes and other illicit activities.

Bailey, who was addressing members of the media on Friday at a press briefing at the Four Paths Police Station, said investigations suggested that most of these individuals were from St James and Westmoreland, but they had contacts in the parish who facilitated them.

"Over 50 persons have so far been charged in the division and we have cleared up more than 90 per cent of those cases," added Detective Sergeant Balvey Thomas, head of the parish's Proactive Investigation Team.

"We do see similar acts where they scam persons from abroad, but the process mainly involves local persons who they ask to pay a fee of about US$500 for overseas employment such as farm work, which are not forthcoming," Thomas said. "We have sensitised the financial institutions in the parish asked them to report any suspicious activities taking place."

The Proactive Investigation Team has also seized seven high performance motorcycles with a street value of about $7 million, which they believed entered the island illegally. One unnamed person has so far been charged in relation to the find.

"We are not sure if they were stolen, but they came into the island in barrels and were later put together at a particular location in the parish. What we can say, however, is that they came in the country illegally," Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Bailey said significant strides had been made in recent months, but gang-related violence continued to be one of their biggest problems. He listed the Effortville community in central Clarendon as the main hotspot.

"The gang situation which is responsible for most of the shootings in the parish is the (main problem) right now. We also have a problem with robbery...At this point in time we are at 46 murders compared to 47 for the same period last year. So let us hope that at the end of the year we will meet our target of no more than 60 murders in the parish. Last year we had a total of 81."

He added: "We continue to appeal to the public to assist us as we seek to make the parish safer. We are going to be out there carrying out proactive operations, so that means you will see more spot checks, more raids and searches in areas where people congregate."

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