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August 8, 2014
Star News



 

$M Fraud BUSTED at Dream Weekend - 51 detained after suspicious credit-card activities
Leighton Levy, Star Writer

Police from the Area One Fraud Squad have launched an investigation into cases of attempted credit-card fraud amounting to millions of dollars that were discovered by the promoters of the just concluded Smirnoff Dream Weekend.

Scammers reportedly obtained an estimated 30 credit cards which were used to buy Smirnoff Dream Weekend season tickets valued at millions of dollars. The case was referred to detectives from the department, who immediately initiated investigations to determine who exactly is behind the scam and where they obtained the credit cards that were used in the attempted fraud that was discovered on July 30, a day before the week-long series of parties kicked off in Negril. Detectives are said to be collating notes from the investigation that was launched on several fronts during the course of the weekend.

unwitting victims

As the investigations gathered momentum, more than 50 persons were initially detained, the majority of which were released after it was discovered that they were unwitting victims of the fraud.

Apparently, they had purchased tickets from the scammers unaware that they were illegally obtained. However, a number of others were detained after it was alleged that they were either directly involved in the fraud or had information that can assist the police in its investigations. The Area One Fraud Squad would not disclose any information except to say the matter was under investigation and that charges would be brought against the perpetrators.

Information reaching the WEEKEND STAR was that the ticketing company and the National Commercial Bank Fraud Department discovered the fraud on July 30. The fraud was detected, sources said, after irregular card activities and the promoters were notified.

According to Kamal Bankay, public relations director for Dream Entertainment, promoters of the Smirnoff Dream Weekend, once the fraudulent activity was identified, promoters were able to demarcate the serial numbers of the specific tickets that were fraudulently purchased and those tickets were flagged unredeemable.

ticketing company

"A special unit that included Fraud Squad detectives, private security, the ticketing company and the promoters were pressed into action and set about thwarting the efforts of the scammers. They ramped up scrutiny on ticket holders and this caused delays in their redemption process," he said.

Bankay explained that many persons experienced a longer than usual time when redeeming their tickets, a situation compounded by the fact that they were not able to announce that a 'sting operation' was in effect.

Bankay also urged Dream Weekend supporters to be more vigilant going forward. "Dream Entertainment repeatedly reiterates that tickets should be purchased directly from us or our approved ticket locations that we advertise and not from private individuals. This prevents innocents from getting caught in the web of deception," said Bankay, who revealed that of the 51 persons initially detained, 19 of them immediately purchased legitimate season bands at the redemption centre and went on to party.

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