TimesLIVE sources said the Johannesburg-based syndicate diverted the money it allegedly stole to romance scam victims who acted as unwitting money mules.
The romance scam victims believed the source of the millions funnelled into their accounts was legit and they were asked to forward the money to accounts held by alleged syndicate members who used fake online identities to lure lonely women.
The syndicate allegedly bought luxury vehicles with the proceeds of their crimes.
SA and US law enforcement authorities have jointly cracked down on Nigerian fraud syndicates in SA over the past two years.
Eight Black Axe leaders were arrested in Cape Town and Johannesburg last year. and according to insurance investigators, this has led to a massive drop in the group’s activities and similar cybercrimes. The eight face extradition to the US, where they will face fraud charges for stealing more than R100m from romance scam victims there.
Hawks investigators have also secured the conviction of Nigerian fraudster Abdul Olatunji, who is expected to be sentenced on April 4 for BEC fraud.
Hawks head , Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya commended the work of the multi-disciplinary team which led to the arrests on Thursday.
“Organised criminal groups should know law enforcement agencies are collaborating on an international level to dismantle criminal networks”, said Lebeya.