Identifying a bad ‘tout’ (scammer) at Jamaica courthouses

Touting is not new. A tout is “someone who attempts to sell (something), typically by a direct, or persistent approach.” Internationally speaking, touts are found almost everwhere. Touts tout for almost anything from tenants to ticket sales at a football match.
In Jamaica, touts are mostly outside governmental buildings. Members of the public especially when it comes to govermental businesses in Jamaica rely heavily on touts, as the system itself is a disaster, slowly improving. The onslaught of the Covid pandemic made a desperate situation worse.

Members of the public lament that the Sutton Street court is the worse government location islandwide. As a result, it is the feeding ground for touts. Still it is critical importance to be able to recognise a bad tout from a good tout. Bad touts most times work out to be scammers,  actually fleece loads of money. The  thin line between bad touts and scammers is drawn by the test of intent. Bad court touts genuinely believe they are doing good, but are unable to produce and when addressed moves fast to correct thec situation. A scammer, on the other hand, sets out to swindle.
At the court, touts overall offer services from serving documents, to tracking down persons, to preparing and filing documents as filing agents. Here are some tips to identifying a tout that just is not right for you:

    1. Bad touts are ‘smooth talkers’. They are comforting, but it’s all just talk.
    2. Bad touts dress exceptionally well, almost too well for the job at hand
    3. Bad touts sometimes get busy engaging listeners with stories, where they project themselves as the hero of the moment
    4. Bad touts project themselves as knowing it, solving it all, while putting down others with defamation.
    5. At the Sutton Street courthouse, bad touts persistently warn victims away from going into the court for themselves
    6. Bad touts most times defame persons who are doing good and can actually help to make themselves seem as the only solution
    7. Bad touts persistently identify themselves as  bailiffs, lawyers, police and even investigators and court staff. The truth is a real Court bailiff, and true private police and an investigator or lawyer does not readily identify himself herself.
    8. Bad touts wear identification cards designed to look like the actual court staffers ID. The identification cards bearing the Coat of Arms, are flashed out now and again
    9. Bad touts charge unreasonable and unconscionable fees. Most times they CANNOT produce the work, because they either do not have the ability or simply cannot because they do not even have a good command of the English language to write or read well, if any at all. There is at least one who charges over $10,000 to prepare and serve a notice, that he cannot even write up
    10. Bad touts intentionally don fake ‘test glasses’. They then trick the unsuspecting victim to read for them, claiming that their eyesight or glasses is bad at the moment
    11. Bad touts cannot give you a straight receipt, if they even do give you a receipt
    12. Bad touts  intentionally disappear with the monies earned quickly after ‘earning it’, proving an intention in the first place to swindle victims, instead of doing what it takes to correct or get the actual work done.
    13. Bad touts even get bad man friends who sometimes are police officers to intimidate the victim who returns and demands a refund
    14. Bad touts are not trained formally and really on very limited informal training, as they usually operate with one per cent reality

Now in most cases listed above, it would seem that a bad tout is a scammer. It is interesting therefore, that the police feels that their hands are tied to do anything when a victim reports on being swindled. Most times the police tells the victims it is a civil matter, and referes them back to the court – adding further pain and chaos.


So here are tips worth using to protect yourself

    1. Do not listen to anyone who persistently says “Do not go inside because I will help you
    2. Do not allow anyone to GRAB paper from your hands, it is unprofessional
    3. If someone bad talks anyone, they are pulling you into defaming others you do not know
    4. As much as possible test anyone approaching you, MAIN TEST: Give the person something to read
    5. Demand a good receipt, even if its not perfect, A receipt must identify the creator, the amount paid, and detail of the work or goods paid for, payment date, balance owing. More on receipts on this site
    6. Ensure you get a police receipt, if you end up reporting the person. According to the Inspectorate of Police receipts are to be issued for anything report. Its not up to the police to decide whether a report is trivial or worthy of a receipt.. remember a police receipt saves lives

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