Date with justice for online dating scam accused

2016-08-24 17:38

Cape Town - Four people accused of running an online dating scam were behind bars on Wednesday, ahead of their own date with a magistrate on Thursday.

The two Nigerian men and two South African women were nabbed after the tables were turned and they were sent a notice to fetch a parcel at the Post Office in Somerset West, outside Cape Town.

One took the bait and went to collect the dummy package, but officials closed in, said Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Robert Netshiunda.

Police seized five laptops, which contained two profiles of those scamming people online, and 12 cellphones.

The group, between the ages of 27 and 38, would appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
Netshiunda said that the cellphones were an integral part of the scam's success.

"If people are careless enough to give them their banking details, they will SIM swap your number, and you will just be surprised when the money is gone from your account because you won't be getting any SMS when that money goes off."

Another part of the scam was recruiting somebody with a local identity document for the purposes of withdrawing money that had been deposited by the lovestruck victim. The victim was made to believe that this was necessary to avert an unexpected problem standing in the way of them meeting their love interest for the first time.

Netshiunda urged caution with online dating, especially when it comes to divulging personal details such as a bank account number.

"They must be very careful. These people are very smooth. They don't just come and scam you on the first day. You will fall in love with them as time goes on.

"And if somebody you love is in trouble, you will feel responsible to help them."

The scamsters are also generous, often saying they are sending a gift.

But then the unsuspecting recipient is suddenly slapped with the news that the gift is being held up through some tariff or customs requirement, and will only be released when the money is paid.

The SMS that comes later confirms this, and all will seem above board. The really bold will also claim a tariff increase before the parcel is collected, also by SMS.

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