THE Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) has issued a warning to the public about a scam targeting the families and friends of persons serving sentences in various correctional facilities across Namibia.
The Commissioner-General of the NCS, Raphael Hamunyela confirmed that the institution has been inundated with queries from the public about cash payments they have made to individuals pretending to be officials of the correctional service that promised them that their family member or friend will be released on parole, probation or remission.
“Victims of the fraudulent scam received calls from individuals that use the names of correctional officers working at the specific facility where the inmate in question is incarcerated,” he said.
Hamunyela noted that the syndicate mostly targets the elderly with false claims that an inmate needs money to pay for his or her release from prison.
“The scammers are also claiming that they were requested by the inmates to reach out to their family members for help. The fraud syndicate also insists that the money should be paid to them by means of an electronic transfer,” he said.
According to Hamunyela, people should under no circumstances pay money to persons claiming to be correctional service officers because the service does not charge any fees for the release of prisoners.
“Inmates are released on certain conditions only. Their meritorious conduct determines their release from incarceration and no payment whatsoever, is required,” he said.
Hamunyela went further and stated that correctional officers are only authorized to call an inmate’s family or friends to inform them of a specific person’s needs and if such needs include money. Officers are also authorised to request money on behalf of an imprisoned person but such payments must be made to the bank account of the specific correctional facility where the inmate in question, is serving his or her sentence.
“Officers are not allowed to request the money to be sent to mobile numbers for cardless withdrawals at automatic teller machines. The money must be deposited into the bank account of the correctional facility where proper procedures are in place to ensure accountability of the service and its officials,” he said.
The Commissioner-General said that such payment requests will always be accompanied by a fax number where proof of payment notices should be sent to further ensure accountability.
Hamunyela concluded by saying that the family and friends of an incarcerated person should contact the specific correctional facility before any payment or deposit is made for information and verification purposes.