Prisoner phone ad fraud is increasing

2014-08-04 00:00

PRISONERS placing fraudulent adverts using cellphones is a growing problem, according to a reliable source in the Hawks.

Sister paper Beeld reported last week about a prisoner in the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria who used several cellphones to falsely advertise his sister’s house in Junkmail and allegedly swindled a number of people out of thousands of rands. The Hawks are investigating charges of fraud against him.

The source said this was a big problem in prisons, adding there are many cellphones in the cells.

Christoff Bekker and Frikkie du Preez, two of the so-called Water­kloof Four, had their parole suspended after a video showed them using cellphones in the Kgosi Mampuru prison.

The source said it was very difficult to prove that someone had placed fraudulent advertisements from prison because the cellphone that was used first has to be confiscated. Once a phone is confiscated, the prisoner often just gets another cellphone to place adverts and take calls.

The source said family of the prisoners often smuggled phones, while prison wardens also sell them.

“Prisons do everything they can to confiscate them, but the phones come in and go out.”

Hannetjie Goosen of Junkmail said they immediately remove any advertisement linked to fraud. She said the fraudsters often just use a different Sim card to place the ad again. “We place advertisements in good faith, and it is impossible to determine what is genuine and what is not.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Ofentse Morwane said they are aware of fraud committed using cellphones from the cells and confirmed the Hawks were investigating several cases in prisons.

He said the allegations are seen in a serious light and the prisoners will receive sentences in line with the findings of the Hawks’ investigation.

Morwane encouraged the public to call the DCS at 080 070 1701 if they suspect someone of committing fraud or a crime in prison.

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