KINGSTON, Jamaica CMC – The Jamaica government says more than 50 people have been charged under the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, which was passed in Parliament less than six months ago.
National Security Minister, Peter Bunting, described the Act, commonly referred to as the Lotto Bill, as a “very effective piece of legislation”, which has made law enforcers much more equipped at tackling the lottery scam and other forms of cybercrimes.
“I’m also very hopeful that we will see some convictions under this (legislation) within the next few months,” Bunting said as he spoke at a national conference on Cyber Security and Digital Forensics at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Cybercrime cases have become a major challenge to local law enforcers, as the internet and e-commerce activities become even more commonplace.
Figures released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), show that proceeds from cybercrimes have amounted to more than two billion dollars (One Jamaica dollar = US$0.01 cents) over the last four years.
The figures also show that more than 1,000 websites have been hacked, including some of those managed by the State, between 2011 and 2012.
The Cybercrime Unit in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has disclosed that there have been 88 cases of third party debit and credit card fraud since the start of the year.
Bunting said the figures indicate that cybercrimes continue to present a range of challenges for local law enforcers, particularly as it pertains to prosecution and that in the internet age, geographical borders have disappeared and attacks may be from anywhere in the world.
“It is difficult to prosecute, because almost by definition it is transnational,” he said, noting that many times when an account is hacked in Jamaica, it is done from a site or an email address hosted by a foreign service, such as Gmail or Facebook.
Bunting said in many of these cases, it is very unlikely that those accounts are based on a server in Jamaica to which local law enforcers have access.
“And even if you do get the co-operation of law enforcement from our international partners, it’s still going to be hard to prosecute in our jurisdiction, because witnesses would still need to come for trials and you would still have an area that is very unfamiliar to judges, prosecutors and the whole system.”
Bunting said it was critical that all stakeholders remain steadfast and continue to work at improving the country’s capacity to tackle the problem of cybercrime from a law enforcement perspective.
The Group Managing Director of the National Commercial Bank (NCB), Patrick Hylton, said the problem of cybercrime had become far too big to be ignored and that both the private and public sectors must position themselves to be extremely vigilant as it relates to protection against threats and vulnerabilities from known and unknown attacks.
“We want customers to be more aware of their responsibility to ensure their security in the virtual world. We also have a responsibility to build internal capabilities, which include both technology, as well as skills competencies and capabilities of our employees,” he said.
The two-day conference is being held under the theme: “Protecting identity, banking and citizen information networks” and the organizers said it is aimed at bringing a wide range of stakeholders together in an effort to deepen the understanding on the topic as well as design regional and national strategic approaches and ultimately seek global and local solutions to the challenge of cyber crime.