Alleged romance scammers’ bail application postponed in Cape Town court | #daitngscams | #lovescams

  • The alleged Parklands paramours appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court for bail after their arrest in connection with a romance scam. 
  • The eight face extradition to the US to stand trial on money laundering, identify theft and wire fraud. 
  • They shuffled into the dock looking grumpy in their Crocs and takkies without laces.

The bail application of seven men accused of an international romance scam and swindling unsuspecting victims was postponed in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. 

Magistrate Ronel Oliver heard they faced charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft in the US. 

Prosecutor Robin Lewis submitted the accused faced Schedule 5 crimes, which included conspiracy to commit money laundering charges that fell under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. 

Their lawyer, Ben Prinsloo, argued that in South Africa money laundering was only a Schedule 5 crime if it was actually committed.

Conspiracy to commit a crime falls under the Riotous Assemblies Act and would be a Schedule 1 offence. 

This changes the onus on who has to prove what during the bail application.

The “dual criminalities” also include details on the amounts of money involved in determining the scheduling.

READ | Hawks, FBI partnership brings down eight ‘romance’ scammers in R100m international fraud case

The significance of this is that for a Schedule 5 and higher offence, the accused have to show why it is in the interests of justice for them to be granted bail.

After listening to some arguments and submissions, Oliver stopped Prinsloo and said she needed time to understand the issues relating to dual criminality before the bail application could start.

She also asked for the investigating officer to be brought to court from Pretoria to explain how the US descriptors for the crimes matched South African crimes. 

The case was postponed to Thursday for the investigating officer to appear and explain it to her.

The affidavit, which was handed up, also suddenly became a document that the court would read, but would not be regarded as official yet.

The accused will return to the holding cells in the court building on Wednesday for a consultation with their lawyer.

Prinsloo asked for this because he said the consulting rooms at Pollsmoor Prison were too small to accommodate them. 

The men sat in the dock listening to an interpreter explain in an English dialect what was being said. 

READ | Foreign nationals nabbed by Hawks and FBI for romance scam face extradition to the US

They wore jackets and a combination of slip-on Crocs and takkies that had their laces removed. 

The alleged Parklands paramours are thought to be behind a scam which swindled lonely hearts out of money by catfishing them. 

Oliver also granted an order the media might film in court 15 minutes before proceedings began, but they could not livestream the case, or take pictures of the accused in court. 

The men were arrested in Cape Town on 19 October after a request for their arrest and extradition by US authorities and Interpol.

Perry Osagiede, Enorense Ozevbigie, Franklyn Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwhor, Musa Mudashirie were arrested in terms of a warrant obtained from the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court under the Extradition Act and Criminal Procedure Act.

Toritseju Gabriel Otubu and Prince Ibeabuchi Mark were provisionally arrested. 

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