More than 100 people fell victim to various scams amounting to over R100-million in South Africa – and this week police arrested eight suspects related to these crimes.
SAPS confirmed the arrest of eight suspects aged between 33 – 52 who were involved in internet scams, money laundering and international-wide scale financial fraud in Cape Town.
The joint operation included the the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI), United State Secret Service(USSS) Investigations, Interpol and with assistance from the Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation unit, Crime Intelligence(CI), K9, National Intervention unit, Special Task Force (STF), Tactical Operations Management Section (TOMS), Criminal Record Centre and Cape Town Metro police.
The suspects were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday morning during a large-scale operation. The charges brought against them include a variety of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud/mail and money laundering.
According to the SAPS, they are allegedly connected to a transnational organised crime syndicate originating in Nigeria.
“It is alleged that these suspects, allegedly preyed on victims, many of whom are vulnerable widows or divorcees who were led to believe that they were in a genuine romantic relationships but were scammed out of their hard earned money. The suspects used social media websites, online dating websites to find and connect with their victims,” read the police statement.
Other modus operandi used by the suspects includes business email compromise, where email accounts are diverted in order to change banking details. They assumed fake names and trolled dating sites.Once they had ingratiated themselves with their victims, they allegedly concocted sob-stories about why they needed money – i.e., taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etc. – and then siphoned money from victim’s accounts to the amount of 100 million rand.
The FBI estimates that more than 100 people lost more than R100 million in romance scams from 2011 till to date. To report any suspected online scam fraud, file a report via the nearest police station.