Extortion scam from prison cells – Convicted inmates charged

South African Police Service

Extortion scam from prison cells – Convicted inmates charged
Extortion scam from prison cells - Convicted inmates charged

The Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation team in Gauteng assisted by the Emergency Support Team (EST) from Gauteng Department of Correctional Services (DCS) executed a joint operation simultaneously at Odi and Baviaaspoort Correctional Centres in Mabopane and Pretoria respectively on Thursday night, 11 August 2022.

The operation was aimed at conducting a cybercrime search and seizure as well as executing warrant of arrests (J50) to four convicted inmates on assortment of charges that include extortion, impersonation of a police officer, money laundering, forgery and uttering.

This follows an in-depth investigation into corrupt police officers allegedly extorting money from several male victims who had sought service of a clandestine online escort agency.

The victims would later be informed by someone purporting to be a police officer that a case of rape and fraud was open against them as they used fake money to pay the sex-workers.

They would also present a fake warrant of arrest through WhatsApp and demand payment to ensure that the police along with the prosecutor make the cases disappear.

The Hawks investigation revealed that a syndicate of inmates with cell phones allegedly created profiles of police officers using the combination of both their names and photos taken from social media profiles of unsuspecting police officers.

They further sourced a call log from an online base escort agency continuously to contact the victims who paid them in fear of prosecution. Over the period between May and August 2022, the total amounts of R760 000-00 and R560 000-00 had been paid into two separate accounts provided to the victims to deposit the money.

During the search the search multiple smart phones were found on each of the four suspects and were seized by the Hawks for further investigation.

A total of thirty-six (36) cell phones, nineteen (19) chargers and other accessories were also found from other inmates in the same cells and were seized by the DCS EST.

Anyone with information who had fallen prey to this kind of extortion should come forward and contact the detective Captain Jacques Loock on 082 778 5626. The four inmates between the ages of 26 and 32 will appear in Pretoria Magistrate Court on Monday 15 August 2022 and more arrests are imminent.

The Hawks Provincial Head in Gauteng, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa commended the team for the meticulous investigation and their collaborative efforts that ensure the successful arrest and seizure of items used in the commission of crime. He further warned those that use services of sex-workers and willingly pay police to evade arrest will face corruption charges if they do not cooperate with the police investigation.

SAPS Newsroom

SOURCESouth African Police Service