Police officers and other international bodies have arrested eight suspects for alleged Internet scams, money laundering and trans-national financial fraud in South Africa.
The arrests in Cape Town were made possible due by the joint operation by 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.
Security Watch Africa (SWA) gathered on Friday that all suspects were arrested during a large-scale operation in the early morning hours, and those apprehended will be charged with a variety of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud/mail and money laundering.
“The suspects in this investigation are alleged to have ties with 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.
Other modus operandi used by the suspects include business email compromise, where email accounts are diverted 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 and crippling debt, among other – and then siphoned money from victim’s accounts to the amount of 100m rand.
“The FBI estimates that more than 100 people lost more than R100m in romance scams from 2011 till date. To report any suspected online scam fraud, file a report via the nearest police station.”