SCAMMERS operating from jail cells in Windhoek managed to fleece thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting people looking for cheap cars on social media platforms.
In this regard, the Namibian Police issued a warning to all citizens to be vigilant when doing business online.
“The Namibian Police Force has learned with concern about recent scammers targeting desperate people, especially vehicle buyers. The scam is quite elaborate to the extent that the scammers are able to provide falsified documents bearing forged signatures and soliciting funds under false pretences,” Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, the head of the Namibian Police’s Public Relations Division, said in a statement.
Deputy Commissioner Shikwambi said the modus-operandi involves the scammers sharing pictures of a vehicle for sale with the would-be buyer on Facebook.
“Once the buyer expresses interest in acquiring the car, they would then arrange and complete falsified paperwork which bears a forged police date stamp as well as a forged signature of, amongst others, the Police Deputy Inspector General to make it seem authentic,” she said.
Currently, the Namibian Police is investigating a syndicate which involves a number of people including women on the outside of the correctional facility, that are sent by the scammer to withdraw money that is deposited by the buyer,” she said.
Deputy Commissioner Sheikwambi indicated that N$43 000 in cash was recovered by investigators thus far.
“The investigation into this particular scam is at an advanced stage and so far two suspects were arrested,” she said.
Deputy Commissioner Shikwambi indicated that further investigations conducted established that male suspects involved in this case are convicted offenders serving sentences in the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
She said a cell search was conducted at the Correctional Facility by correctional officers which resulted in the discovery of five mobile phones that were used to perpetuate their scam.
“In view of the latest developments, the Namibian Police Force would like to reiterate its continuous warning to people that smuggle contraband into Police holding cells or into correctional facilities because it allows criminals to advance their criminal activities. Offenders in this regard will sternly be dealt with in accordance with the law,” she said.
The Namibian Police Force further discourages people from engaging in unverified online transactions.
According to Deputy Commissioner Shikwambi, the following tips may be useful to avoid being a victim:
• Community members are urged to be cautious when buying cars.
• Always stay alert to the possibility of being scammed when deciding to buy.
• The public is reminded of the risks of buying cars that they have not viewed physically.
• The public is encouraged not to deposit money into an account for a car that is not yet received.