Posted by Popoola, Sunday on Sunday, June 8, 2014 Under: News Stories

The atmosphere was tense. There were hopes, fears and doubts. The action of arrest gave a serious task to 31 Warrant Officers, 1 Brigadier, 4 Cornels, 17 Lieutenant-Cornel, 32 Captains, 24 Deputy Warrant Officers and 1 Deputy Sergeant of the South African Police as they were forwarded a “Search and Secure Warrant” on 19th May, 2014 to arrest 12 Nigerians who were alleged of committing financial crimes of Cyber, Mass- Marketing, and Fraud Schemes.

The arrest were made in a joint operation between US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),  Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) , South Africa Police Service’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation(the HAWKS), South Africa’s Crime Intelligence, Interpol, the South Africa Tactical Response Team and the South Africa Department of Home Affairs- Immigration.

“This is the ramification of the collaboration between South African Police Service and U.S Homeland Security Investigations”, said the National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat “If criminals are able to interact with their fellows across the borders, we can do it better”.

The operation comes after HIS Special Agents followed a financial fraud scam to Pretoria particularly Sunnyside.

The U.S Federal charges alleged that a West African transactional organized crime enterprise was involved in numerous complex financial fraud schemes over the internet. The mass marketing fraud includes romance scams, reshipping scams, fraudulent cheque scams, work-at-home scams, along with bank financial and credit card account takeovers.

The investigation was initiated by HIS Special Agents in October 2011, after US law enforcement was contacted by a female victim in Mississippi, who was victimized in a sweetheart scam. The victim received a suspicious package in the mail requesting her to reship the merchandise to an address in Pretoria, South Africa. The investigation later revealed that the merchandise was purchased using stolen personal identity information and fraudulent credit card information of persons in the United States. Investigators have so far identified hundreds of victims to this scam in the United States. This has resulted in the loss of millions of US dollars.

Special Agent in charge of HIS New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr, who oversees a five-state area of operations to include Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee, expressed, “financial crimes that threaten the health of our national economy and criminals who attempt to cheat law-abiding citizens out of their hard-earned money will continue to be a major investigative priority for HIS. This case illustrates HIS’s practice of leveraging to the fullest extent possible domestic and international law enforcement partnerships in pursuit of justice”.

This syndicate allegedly went for some years purchasing shipping labels from the US Postal Service (USPS), Federal Express, United Parcel Service and DHL with fraudulent credit card information or stolen identities. Once the merchandise reached South Africa, the suspects advertised it for sale on the Internet.

The operation came after an eight-count federal indictment was filed in the United States  which charged 18 individual with wire fraud, bank fraud, access device fraud, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, theft of government funds and money laundering. The suspects allegedly enriched themselves with illegally obtained funds.

The suspects appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court Wednesday on charges of fraud and theft, and they will be extradited to the United States to face prosecution in the Southern District of Mississippi. Other members of this transnational criminal enterprise were arrested in Canada, California, Georgia, Indiana, New York, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Some exhibit found with the alleged 12 Nigerians arrested are CIPRO Certificate, Tax certificate, Brown box with US postal service , Dell laptop, Neotel Modem, Nokia1280 phone, Compact Disk, Mini Laptop, Sim Cards, USB Memory stick, MP 5 player 8 gb, Vodacom , Black berry mobile phones, IPOD Mobile phone e.t.c.

In a short interview with a Nigerian Banker, visiting South Africa, he expressed his perception,”I can’t encourage any Nigerian youth to join this gang of internet fraud stars, it is not good”. They are damaging the image of our country and the fault is greed. Yes we don’t have enough employment for our youth but that is not a reason to commit crime. Most of this youths who are into internet fraud are not illiterates, they are literates, they go to school even though a lot of them are drop outs, they understand what is going on in the society but after school what do they do? Nothing.

The Nigerian Voice newspaper welcomes the arrest of these bad eggs in the Nigerian community in South Africa.

In : News Stories 

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