4 nabbed in Gauteng for 419 scam

2012-06-01 07:20
Johannesburg - Four men have been arrested in Gauteng in connection with fraud relating to a 419 scam, police said on Thursday.

Colonel Vishnu Naidoo said the men were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday by Interpol members acting on a US extradition order to arrest Nigerian Ayodele Abrahamm Saliu.

"He [Saliu] is being sought in the United States of America to stand trial [in] 12 cases including charges of fraud, computer intrusion and identity theft," Naidoo said in a statement.

"He is accused of being involved in wire fraud, bank fraud, computer intrusion and identity theft which resulted in people being defrauded of an [accumulated] amount of over $500 000."

The 419 scam is also known as the lottery scam, and an unsolicited fax, e-mail, or letter from Nigeria or another African country making a proposal, but asking for up-front payment of a fee.

Incriminating messages

Saliu came to South Africa a month ago, but could not be located as he continuously moved around, said Naidoo.

"On May 29, at 21:30, Saliu tried to leave SA from OR Tambo International Airport where our Interpol officers arrested him under the penal code 41(k) of the Criminal Procedure Act," he said.

"Yesterday, [Wednesday] Interpol members conducted further investigation which led them to three other male Nigerian nationals."

Naidoo said only one of them could produce his passport. Another had only a copy of his passport and the third said his passport was with a contact that was organising his permanent residency.

"Their cellphones were inspected by one of the police's IT specialist and [they were] found to have messages containing names and bank accounts of people from USA, Canada, UK, Finland, SA and other countries," said Naidoo.

"Some of the messages were connected to the 419 scam of the value of between R600 000 and R900 000. Other messages on the cellphones were instructions to 'speed up hacking processes'."

The 419 scams were the largest in the world in terms of monetary losses, the police said on their website.

Damning letters

A task team had been set up to investigate them. Naidoo said a laptop was inspected and police discovered it contained files with 419 scam messages which had been sent around the world.

"The files found on the laptop contained names, addresses, telephone numbers, bank accounts details with amounts in different currencies of different people around the world either used or to be used for fraud and identity theft."

The files also contained files with internal bank information relating to accounts of various people worldwide.

Saliu appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court for the extradition hearing.

"The case was postponed to June 7 and he remains in custody," said Naidoo.

The other three men would appear in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on Monday on charges relating to fraud and identity theft.
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  fraud

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