THE Government is hoping to have legislation to prosecute persons involved in the lottery scam approved by March 31 — the end of the fiscal year.
The Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act 2013, was tabled in the House of Representatives by Security Minister Peter Bunting on Tuesday.
The Bill is likely to be debated in the House of Representatives next week, and the Senate the following week, in an effort to meet the March 31 deadline.
The absence of legislation to deal with the growing lottery scam has made the police almost powerless in prosecuting people suspected to be involved in the scam. A number of suspects, including teenagers, have acquired property, including houses and motor cars, believed to have been gained through the scam, but have not been arrested because of the absence of the necessary laws.
The proposed legislation makes specific provisions for a number of offences, including obtaining property or inducing any person to confer any benefit on any person by a false pretence; inviting or otherwise inducing a person to visit Jamaica for the purpose of committing an offence under the Act; knowingly permitting premises to be used for any purpose which constitutes an offence under the Act; and knowingly conducting a financial transaction with the proceeds of an offence.
It also makes provisions for threatening or intimidating a person involved in a criminal investigation or trial of an offence under the Act; theft or forgery of an access device; repairing, selling, exporting from or importing into Jamaica, or possessing any instrument, device, apparatus, material, or thing that is used or is adapted for use in copying data from an access device or in forging or falsifying an access device without lawful justification or excuse; and knowingly obtaining, possessing, transporting or distributing identity information of a person in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable inference that information has been used or is intended to be used to commit an offence under the Act or any law.
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding has explained that the legislation will target advanced fee fraud and make the possession of paraphernalia involved in scamming an offence.
"It targets identity theft and the dishonest use of access devices, a defined term taken from the US Criminal Code, which covers present and future technologies for accessing financial accounts," he said earlier this week.
Senator Golding also pointed out that the Bill will prohibit the use of threats and intimidation over the telephone, or intent to coerce victims to part with funds and make it an offence to own or control premises from which scamming is conducted.
He said the Government is determined to eliminate lottery scamming in the country, but admitted that there are gaps in the current laws, which make it almost impossible to convict lotto scammers.
"The new law represents a focused and concerted legislative effort — along with amendments to come with the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) — to finally and swiftly get convictions and seizure of properties owned by scammers," Golding said.
The POCA will be amended by Order, to apply to the offences proposed in the new Bill. The Government says it will utilise the provisions of the POCA to facilitate prosecution of offences under the new Act.