Hawks head Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya. File picture: ANA

Johannesburg - The Directorate of Priority Crimes, more commonly known as the Hawks, is tackling 2 158 fraud dockets involving more than R182 billion from the previous financial year, the unit's boss Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the International Association of Financial Crime Investigators conference held in Rosebank, Johannesburg, Lebeya said limited financial crime investigators had an impact on the work of the Hawks. Staff capacity at the Hawks was at 2 500, including included administrative officers who do not do investigative work. At least 1,700 of the personnel were investigators.

"At least 3 558 accused persons with 15 077 counts of fraud were convicted. During the same period, the greater SA Police Service received 73 861 cases of fraud. 36 847 accused persons were arrested and 11 150 were convicted," he said.

The fraud cases ranged from government tender fraud involving millions of rands, online scams, tax fraud, forgery, fake marriages, citizenship and identity fraud, and the illegal hunting of endangered species.

"All those cases referred to above can be perpetrated through cyber space. You no longer need tippex and type writers, you design your own certificates," said Lebeya.

He added that crooks now group themselves into syndicates, operate speedily and know no borders as they wreak havoc on the State and the economy.

African News Agency (ANA)