Johannesburg scammers

Other suspects linked to a global crime syndicate, the Black Axe have been arrested in Johannesburg.
Photo: Stock Image / Pixabay

Johannesburg scammers arrested by Interpol and US Secret Service

The Hawks, US Secret Service and Interpol arrested scammers (including women) linked to a global crime syndicate in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg scammers

Other suspects linked to a global crime syndicate, the Black Axe have been arrested in Johannesburg.
Photo: Stock Image / Pixabay

A group of scammers suspected of swindling a US-based company around EUR 455,000 (roughly R7 275 450) has been arrested in raids across Johannesburg. 

The raids were led by investigators from the Hawks Serious Commercial Crimes Unit and US Secret Service agents, and supported by Interpol.


According to Interpol, the operation was part of a global initiative under the framework of its Global Financial Crime Task Force (IGFCTF). Fourteen countries including South Africa and the United States work closely together to tackle the global threat of cyber enabled financial crime.

The operation eventually led to the arrest of seven people allegedly linked to a Nigerian organised crime syndicate that specialises in online fraud. 

The suspects – four men and three women aged between 25 and 42 – are believed to be key figures in a global crime syndicate involved in fraud and money laundering. The gang is also believed to be behind romance scams, using fake online identities to lure vulnerable men and women to transfer money. 

READ: Here are South Africa’s top scammers listed by the FBI

In 2021, 8 suspected Black Axe leaders were arrested in Cape Town and Johannesburg. This reportedly led to a massive drop in the group’s activities and similar crimes. 

Black Axe is a violent mafia-style gang in Nigeria linked to murder and fraud. It has infiltrated the country’s political system and launched a global scamming operation well beyond Nigeria’s borders.

The suspects face extradition to the US, where they are charged with stealing more than EUR 6.25 million (roughly R102 550 000) from romance scam victims there. 

Michael Burgin from the US Secret Service said the fight against cyber-enabled crime knows no boundaries. 

“The collaborative efforts in this case show how vital it is to work collectively with our international partners to execute impactful takedowns of these highly organised transnational criminal syndicates.”

Michael Burgin

Hawks head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya said organised criminal groups should know law enforcement agencies are collaborating on an international level to dismantle criminal networks.

Rory Corcoran from the Interpol said taking advantage of globalisation and digitisation processes, criminals are able to commit financial crimes with increasing efficiency and sophistication.

“The Johannesburg arrests highlight the importance of international cooperation between INTERPOL and its global law enforcement partners to target and disrupt the criminal syndicates involved in all forms of financial crimes and corruption.”

Rory Corcoran


Advocate Robin Lewis from Cape Town was awarded a medal by the United State of America Secret Service for his work on the case against members of South Africa’s top scammers, the Black Axe syndicate.

ALSO READ: Cape Town advocate awarded by US Secret Service for nailing SA’s top scammers