Business

'Turn scammed assets back against crime'

By Shamille Scott Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 09, 2012    

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Use criminal's earnings to fight financial crime, says Justin Felice.

Once Jamaican law enforcement is successful in ceasing financial assists, the money can be used in law enforcement and save the economy, said the chief technical director at the Financial Investigations Division.

His vision is the establishment of an assets recovery incentive scheme. Its proceeds would fund the country's criminal justice system.

"I'd like to see a government policy to do just that," Felice said. He proposes that 30 per cent would go to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and other law enforcement.

Social programmes would gain 20 per cent of the proceeds of the programme.

"The money could go to a rape crisis centre for example," he said. "In the end, the profit made from will fund the fight against crime," he added.

Already, the Proceeds of Crimes Act (POCA) is a legislation that targets benefits of crimes that incorporate the concept of money laundering.

Felice encouraged persons to be more cautious with their money and personal information over the Internet.

"We all know the current global recession is fuelling money laundering," he said. But, "cyberspace has no jurisdiction", according to Felice.

Head of the Organised Crime Investigation, Senior Superintendent, Fitz Bailey said scammers have found innovative ways of gathering the personal information of victims.

"They have graduated from using the call centres," he said. Now, hackers have found ways to gather information over the Internet Bailey added.

Using the lottery scam is an example of a financial crime, Felice said people are making telephone calls and are committing crime without getting their hands dirty.

A US government agency, the Federal Trade Commission, conservatively estimated that US$82 million was scammed from US citizens based in a 10 per cent reported activity.

But other types of financial scams exist and Jamaicans have fallen prey. He pointed to identity theft, cash for gold, investment fraud and credit card scams.

The cloning of credit and debit cards costs banks millions of dollars annually, while falsifying taxpayer registration numbers (TRNs) in Jamaica has been identified by the police as the fastest-growing form of identity theft.

Once the investment is made from the scheme proposed by Felice, there will be fewer losses from financial crime. "It (the programme) is a good business model," he said.

The proceeds will fund the development of intelligence labs that can be used to conduct analysis and research.

"We need the resources to fight cyber crimes that is affecting our economy," Felice said.

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