Four Inmates Caught Running Online Escort Scam From Behind Bars

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Four Inmates Caught Running Online Escort Scam From Behind Bars
Credit: © Reuters.

Four serving prisoners have allegedly been caught scamming male users of a clandestine escort website from whom they extorted more than a million rand using threats of arrest for rape.

Authorities alleged the enterprising inmates aged between the ages of 26 and 32 used cellphones to create fake profiles of policemen – complete with photos – and used the information they somehow got from an online escort agency to extort cash from users.

Investigations revealed that fake police officers were extorting money from male victims who had sought the services of a clandestine online escort agency.

The victims were contacted by someone purporting to be a police officer telling them that a case of rape and fraud had been opened against them.

The victims were told the fraud charge related to paying for escort services using fake banknotes.

The scammers allegedly sent their victims a copy of a “warrant of arrest” through WhatsApp and demanded payment to make the cases disappear.

The scammers would continuously contact victims with threats of arrest as a means to compel them to pay.

Investigations by the Hawks have revealed that the prisoners and their accomplices extorted more than a million rand from victims.

Between May and August 2022, two payments of R760 000 and R560 000 were paid into two separate accounts allegedly provided to the victims by the prison gang.

On Thursday night (11 August 2022) law enforcers raided Odi and Baviaaspoort correctional centres in Mabopane and Pretoria respectively.

“The operation was aimed at conducting a cybercrime search and seizure as well as executing warrants of arrests (J50) to four convicted inmates on an assortment of charges that include extortion, impersonation of a police officer, money laundering, forgery, and uttering,” said Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase.

The raid involving the Hawks, and the Emergency Support Team from the Gauteng Department of Correctional Services was executed simultaneously at both facilities.

All four prisoners suspected of taking part in the scam were found with smartphones.

Authorities said they recovered 36 cellphones, 19 chargers, and related accessories from other inmates sharing the same cells with the four suspects.

The four inmates accused of the scam will appear in Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 15 August 2022.

Hawks Provincial Head in Gauteng, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa, warned users of escort services risked corruption charges if they paid extortionists to evade prosecution.

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

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