Two women, Omotese Ebor, 40, and Fortune Nomfusi, 31, have been arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in a major breakthrough following a “romance scam” in which an unnamed woman was swindled out of almost R2 million.
“The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation in Gauteng is pleased with the breakthrough regarding the online dating scam in the country which resulted in an additional arrest on Sunday, March 20 in Sandton,” said Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu.
It is alleged that between December 2016 and January 2018, the unsuspecting woman met a “potential partner” on social media who introduced himself as “Mr Allen Grey”, who claimed to be a prominent businessman in the Western Cape.
“It was reported that a few days after they started dating, the accused, Omotese Ebor, also known as Tessy, allegedly continuously borrowed money from the complainant,” said Mulama.
The accused, pretending to be Allen Grey, reportedly borrowed approximately R1.9 million during this period, claiming that “his” bank accounts had been hacked, Mulama said.
“The money was reportedly transferred into different bank accounts, including R857 000 into Ebor’s business bank account. Guided by her suspicions, the complainant reported the matter to the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation in Johannesburg for further probing,” Mulamu said.
Authorities successfully secured a warrant of arrest against all those positively linked to the matter.
A multi-disciplinary approach driven operation was conducted by the Hawks’ serious commercial crime investigation and the tactical operation management services (Toms) in Sandton, where Ebor was arrested during a church service.
“Ebor was subsequently charged with fraud and money laundering. She appeared in the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court (on Tuesday). The court remanded Ebor in custody pending investigation,” said Mulamu.
Earlier this year, the other alleged perpetrator linked to the scam, Fortune Nomfusi, was successfully traced and arrested in Makhaza, Khayelitsha in the Western Cape.
Approximately R70 000 was allegedly reported to have been transferred into Nomfusi's bank account.
Nomfusi was granted R3 000 bail.
Meanwhile, the head of the Hawks in Gauteng, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa has commended the investigation team for the determination and passion displayed during tracing of the accused.
“This was never an easy task for authorities to trace down the accused, but through their commitment we managed to secure warrants of arrest.
“We would like to caution the public who seek romance online to always be vigilant against the possible criminals hiding behind the name of love. Perpetrators out there may lure the unsuspecting and vulnerable romance-seekers online for exploitation purposes as well,” Kadwa said.
Anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee has also cautioned about widespread “romance scams” which have resulted in numerous women being scammed.
#DailySafetyTip •Syndicates befriend you •Women are also promised marriage & money •Within days, they will take you to a bank & apply for a loan on your name •Corrupt bank officials approve it •When the money is paid, they take it all & disappear, leaving you with debt. pic.twitter.com/WXZLXDdxIH— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) March 22, 2022
Earlier this month, Ugandan national Amon Namara, the 43-year-old sales representative accused of scamming Sandton-based women he met on Tinder, appeared at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, seeking bail.
The woman who led to the charging and arrest of South Africa’s own “Tinder Swindler” allegedly lost R3m.
Magistrate Nishani Beharie granted the bail, and set it at a staggering R500 000.
Bail conditions that she set for Namara included that he should report to a police station near him daily, he should not leave Gauteng or South Africa, and he should not make contact with witnesses.
The State had opposed Namara’s bail. Its grounds included that it had a strong prima facie case against him, he could interfere with witnesses, and that he was in the country illegally.
Namara used a relative’s visa to remain in South Africa. He was married to a South African woman and divorced, leading to the State to believe he is now undocumented.
Prosecutor Goitsemang Goremang submitted an affidavit by Lieutenant Colonel Sello Mohapeloa, detailing the grounds for the bail opposition.
Mohapeloa stated that Namara stood a chance to be slapped with a myriad of charges, as more women were expected to come forward.
The current charges relate to counts of fraud and money laundering, relating to the case reported by the Sandton woman.
Mohapeloa detailed that the woman believed Namara loved her. She did not suspect much when he proposed a business start-up to her.
The lover borrowed R3 million from her friends to allegedly channel toward the business.
Mohapeloa stated that the woman transferred R1.3m to Namara’s bank account and gave him R1.7m in cash.