Four nabbed in 419 scam syndicate

2012-06-01 07:16

Four men have been arrested in Gauteng in connection with fraud relating to the 419 scam.

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

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

“He is accused of being involved in wire fraud, bank fraud, computer intrusion and identity theft which resulted in people being defrauded of an accumulative amount of more than $500 000 (about R4.3 million).”

The 419 scam is also known as the lottery scam. It usually consists of an unsolicited fax, email, or letter from Nigeria or another African country making a proposal, but asking for upfront payment of a fee.

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

“On May 29, at 9.30pm, 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.

“On Wednesday Interpol members conducted further investigations 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 who was organising his permanent residency.

“Their cellphones were inspected by one of the police’s IT specialists and they were found to have messages containing names and bank accounts of people from the US, 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.

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 Magistrates 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.

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