A group of inmates were found with 36 mobile phones in the prison cells of the Pretoria Correctional Service. These four convicts actually ran an extortion syndicate posing as cops – straight from their prison cells.


The Hawks received information about corrupt police officers extorting money from men seeking services from an underground online escort agency.

These men were later allegedly informed by the police that a case of rape and fraud had been opened against them. The reason, according to the victims, was that they used fake money to pay sex workers, Hawks spokesman Lt. Col. Philani Nkwalase said.

“They will also present a fake arrest warrant via WhatsApp and demand payment to ensure that the police, along with the prosecutor, make the cases go away.”

Lt. Col. Philani Nkwalase

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Prisoners attacked men who sought the services of an escort agent and demanded money from them. PHOTO: Hawks


The Hawks conducted an in-depth investigation into the complaints. It turned out that the syndicate was run by four inmates with mobile phones.

These inmates posed as police officers by taking the names and photos of unsuspecting officers from their social media profiles, Nkwalase said.

“Additionally, they obtained a call log from the escort agency’s online database in order to constantly contact the victims who paid them for fear of prosecution.”

Between May and August 2022, the four convicted fraudsters received a total of R1.32 million.

“A total of R760 000 and R560 000 were paid into two separate accounts that were provided to the victims to deposit money into.”

Lt. Col. Philani Nkwalase

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Gauteng’s Serious Corruption Investigation Team took action on Thursday night.

A multi-disciplinary team consisting of the Emergency Support Team from the Gauteng Department of Correctional Services conducted a joint operation. They simultaneously targeted Odi and Baviansport Correctional Centers in Mabopan and Pretoria.

“The operation was aimed at conducting search and seizure of cybercriminals and executing warrants for the arrest (J50) of four convicted on a range of charges including extortion, impersonating a police officer, money laundering, forgery and uttering.”

Smartphones were found in the possession of each of the four suspects during the search operation. Some of them were found in the soles of shoes, in plug adapters and stuck under the side pedestals.

“A total of 36 cell phones, 19 chargers and other accessories were also found on other inmates in the same cells and confiscated by the Department of Correctional Services’ emergency support team.”

Lt. Col. Philani Nkwalase

Hawkes Provincial Chief in Gauteng Major General Ibrahim Kadwa commended the team for their thorough investigation.

He also applauded their joint efforts to ensure the successful arrest and seizure of items used in the commission of the crime.

“He further warned that those who use the services of sex workers and are willing to pay fake police to avoid arrest face corruption charges if they do not cooperate with police investigations,” Nkwalase said.

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Anyone who has fallen victim to this type of scam is being urged to come forward. They can contact Detective Captain Jacques Locke on 082 778 5626.

“The four prisoners, aged between 26 and 32, will appear in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court on Monday 15 August 2022 and further arrests are imminent.”

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