Dangerous OLX extortion and kidnapping syndicate uncovered

Carte Blanche and a specialised police unit have arrested a dangerous syndicate which targeted people who advertised their vehicles online.

The gang, which operated in the Vaal area, has been going for five years and typically trapped online car sellers with an elaborate scam.

Carte Blanche interviewed people who were targeted by the syndicate, and they all advertised their vehicles on the OLX classifieds website.

In one case, involving a Centurion man, the scammer asked to meet him at a police station in Vanderbijlpark.

“The story is the criminals are actually officers in Vanderbijlpark and have been identified, but as usual, nothing has happened due to a lack of evidence,” he said.

Many reports about the same modus operandi have been posted online.

How the scam works

A syndicate member contacts the victim – the vehicle seller – and lures them to a meeting in Vanderbijlpark to buy their vehicle.

At the meeting the victim is introduced to a second member of the syndicate, who shows them a bag full of cash and diamonds.

The diamonds must allegedly be sold to a third party to make up the rest of the cash to pay for the vehicle.

The victim is then taken to a nearby house, where they are told to wait for the rest of the money to arrive.

Fake police officers then barge into the house and accuse the victims of fake diamond dealings.

The victims are then taken to separate rooms, if there are more than one, where they are threatened that they will be taken to jail where they will be raped.

The victims are then forced to transfer money to the criminals’ accounts, and hand their bank cards to the criminals with their PINs.

Some of the victims were forced to withdraw money from a bank branch, while the other victim was held captive.

After the victims handed over their money to the criminals, they were told that they will be killed if they go to the police after being let go.

The screenshots from Carte Blanche show the criminals waiting for a victim outside the bank.

The headline image shows a victim (in front) being followed by a criminal to the bank.

The gang arrested

According to News24, five Namibian nationals which were allegedly linked to the syndicate will appear in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court.

The screenshot below from Carte Blanche shows the arrest of the gang last week.

OLX responds

OLX said in a statement that the safety of its customers is extremely important to them and they aim to protect their users from criminal activity.

“We invest heavily in technology to detect fraudulent users and cooperate with SAPS to bring perpetrators to book,” it said.

“We provide our users with a fraud prevention helpline (021 406 3900) to report any suspicious activity and an online chat function to help our customers buy and sell safely.”

OLX added that it is deeply concerned about the elaborate criminal activity Carte Blanche uncovered and will help remove such activity.

Now read: OLX invests R1.4 billion in We Buy Cars

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Dangerous OLX extortion and kidnapping syndicate uncovered