Airtime fraudsters nabbed

Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

Police arrested two Somalians believed to be members of a syndicate involved in the printing and distribution of airtime vouchers in Sunnyside, Pretoria, yesterday.

Police followed an anonymous tip-off which led them to an internet cafe on the corner of Celliers and Esselen streets in Sunnyside.

The two men, aged 21 and 24, were caught red-handed printing and packing the MTN, Cell C and Vodacom airtime vouchers.

Sunnyside police spokesman inspector Malose Mashiane said their preliminary investigation revealed that the syndicate have connections in all the cellphone networks' airtime production houses.

"According to the information we have, the syndicate's connection releases the airtime voucher numbers to the syndicate members who then use a computer to design and print airtime with the stolen voucher numbers," said Mashiane.

Police seized 19 000 Cell C, 13 880 Vodacom and 12 200 MTN airtime vouchers in the swoop. The individual values of the airtime vouchers had not been printed when they were seized.

A computer and printer used to design and print the fraudulent airtime vouchers were also seized.

Mashiane estimated the value of the seized airtime vouchers to be R2,9 million.

The suspects have been charged with fraud and will appear at the Pretoria magistrate's court tomorrow.

"We have a strong belief that this is the work of a syndicate and we expect to make more arrests," said Mashiane.