Online crooks seek bail, pending extradition request to US


Cape Town – Eight foreign nationals, who were arrested for allegedly duping women over 100 million rand, appeared before the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Perry Osagiede, Enorense Izevbiege, Franklin Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, Musa Mudashiru, Prince Ibeabuchi Mark and Toritseju Gabriel Otubu were arrested on Tuesday by the Hawks, with help from the FBI, Interpol and the US Secret Service, for their involvement in Internet scams, large scale money laundering and international financial fraud, in Cape Town.

The operations were initiated on the basis of mutual legal assistance from the central authorities of the United States, which was approved by the Republic of South Africa.

Hawks spokesman in the Western Cape Zinzi Hani said a multidisciplinary team worked to arrest the suspects, made up of the Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation Unit, Criminal Intelligence (CI) , K9, National Response Unit and Special Task Force (STF), Criminal Record Center and Cape Town Metro Police.

The group is said to have ties to a transnational organized crime syndicate, originally from abroad.

“These suspects allegedly preyed on victims, many of whom are vulnerable widows or divorcees, and believed they were in a genuine romantic relationship, but were ripped off with their hard-earned money.

“The suspects used social media and online dating sites to find and connect with their victims.

“Other modus operandi used by suspects include compromising business emails, where email accounts are hijacked in order to change bank details.

“They assumed fake names and trolled the dating sites.

“Once they pardoned themselves with their victims, they would have concocted bloody stories about why they needed the money – taxes to free an inheritance, essential trips abroad, debts. paralyzing, etc. million.

“The fraudsters intimidated and berated their victims, ruined their lives and then disappeared,” Hani said.

When they appeared in court, the court heard that there was an extradition request pending by the US government, where arrest warrants were issued against them.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said the arrest warrants for the group had been issued in New Jersey and Texas.

“In America they are charged with: wire fraud conspiracy in violation of Title 18, US Code, Section (s) k1349; wire fraud in violation of Title 18, US Code, section (s) 1343 and 2, money laundering conspiracy in violation of Section (s) 1956 (h,) of the US Code and aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, US Code, Section (s) 1028A and 2, ”Ntabazalila said.

He said the group’s fraudulent activities caused at least $ 6.8 million in losses to U.S. citizens and others around the world.

Ntabazalila said the group intended to seek bail, pending the extradition request, however, the state will oppose bail as it believes it is a risk of leakage.

“They are likely to falsify evidence electronically and some are in the country illegally because their passports have expired,” he added.

The bail application was filed in court on October 26 and 28.

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