A couple that has been linked to an online dating scam has been arrested, and will spend four weeks behind bars as they await the hearing of their bail application. Chinonso Pascal Eze (33) and Pamella Mendrew (26) were arrested by the Hawks’ serious commercial crime investigation unit approximately a week ago.

The couple appeared in Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday after defrauding unsuspecting women of more than R1-million in cash and other goods.

Speaking to IOL, Hawks spokesperson, Philani Nkwalase, said that Hawks officers seized a vehicle, banks cards and statements, as well as various cellphones during the arrest.

The couple’s bail application hearing will take place on 18 September.

The Hawks have been cracking down on the suspected online dating fraud ring, with members allegedly operating out of Bellville. Last week, authorities arrested a 27-year-old man who has been working in connection with the alleged online dating fraud ring.

“It is alleged that the suspect forms part of a syndicate operating around Cape Town. Their modus operandi reportedly includes using fake profiles on the online-based dating sites to lure victims‚” the Hawks said. “Several electronic equipment that includes laptops‚ smart phones‚ bank cards‚ and documents of a shipment on transit from a victim in Australia were seized.”

This is not the first time that such a syndicate is operating out of Belville.

In 2016, a Nigerian national named Ndubusi Ifediora was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after it emerged that he had defrauded lonely women out of a total of R1.2-million.

He admitted that he, along with other unknown syndicate members, made use of popular dating site Match.Com to prey on victims.

Ifediora said they used false identities and targetted women they regarded as “unattractive”.

In recent weeks, many reports have also emerged of sex extortion (or “sextortion”) rings operating on WhatsApp as well.

A “female” scammer will contact a male victim via the messaging service and send erotic pictures of herself, before asking the victim to send compromising photos of himself in return. As soon as she receives the pictures, she will demand money in return for not leaking the pictures, and causing public shame.

If the victim refuses to send these compromising pictures, the scammer will resort to Photoshop to create images depicting the victim as naked.

On WhatsApp’s Frequently Asked Questions page, you will find instructions on how to avoid being scammed.

You can send reports to WhatsApp by contacting them from inside the app.

– On Android: Go to WhatsApp > Menu Button > Settings > About and help > Contact Us.

– On iPhone: Go to WhatsApp > Settings > About and Help > Contact Us.

– On Windows Phone: Go to WhatsApp > more > settings > about > support.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.