7 appear for online dating scam

2014-07-17 21:54

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Four men and three women appeared in court on Thursday in connection with their alleged involvement in an online dating scam.

They appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, before Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, facing 77 counts of fraud and one framed in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca).

Of the men, three are Nigerian nationals, and one a Ghanian. Two of the women are Nigerians, and the third a South African.

The four men were arrested in May last year in a room at the Lagoon Beach Hotel in the Cape Town suburb of Milnerton.

The charge sheet lists 21 alleged victims, all of whom were duped in online dating chats.

Prosecutor Juan Agulhas alleges the seven accused created false online dating profiles, and targeted vulnerable victims with whom they built up trust in a grooming process, and then requested money from them for "ostensible emergencies".

The charge sheet tells how one of the victims, an Australian woman, started chatting online with a fictitious man by the name of Donald Caine, who claimed to be a semi-retired petroleum engineering consultant based in Fiji.

Caine was looking for a buyer for an expensive painting that he inherited from his late father, and falsely informed the woman that the painting was about to be auctioned without his consent.

The victim then received a call from a woman claiming to be a Cape Town customs official, and said the painting had not been properly declared, and that Caine needed money urgently to pay customs duty, in order to get the painting to Sydney.

Caine promised to repay the money, but failed to do so.

Fake profiles

The victim was duped by a call from a woman claiming to be Caine's sister, who said her brother had died and had left his estate, worth R64m , to the victim.

Agulhas alleges the seven accused, acting in common purpose, used fake profiles including photographs and descriptions, in order to gain the trust of victims, and to take advantage of them.

The accused also allegedly falsely informed victims that the fictitious people were from exotic foreign countries and, once they had the trust of their victims, would request large sums of money for emergencies and other expenses.

Another victim got involved in online dating with a woman named Zuska, who claimed to own a painting worth R35m.

At one stage, Zuska falsely informed him that she had been arrested by customs officials, and needed money to secure her release.

Agulhas alleges that the scam generally involved non-existent valuable paintings that could not be converted into money due to restrictions.

The seven were warned to appear in court again on 27 August.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fraud  |  crime  |  internet

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.