Dodgy Facebook ‘marketer’ kidnapped clients at gunpoint

Top cop urges public to be vigilant and smart when using online platforms. Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Top cop urges public to be vigilant and smart when using online platforms. Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Published Feb 9, 2024


A man masquerading as a social media marketer on Facebook has been arrested after two victims were allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint in Winterveld.

As part of his modus operandi the suspect advertised online a music mixer in November 2022.

Unsuspecting victims responded to the advert as potential buyers of the item.

Police spokesperson, Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi, said a substantial amount of money was transferred to the suspect’s bank account by the victims.

The suspect was identified as an employee at the National Air Force and was traced and arrested at his workplace on Tuesday.

Four other suspects were arrested in connection with the same case recently, according to the police.

“This trend has become a point of concern for sometime, especially in Loate and Rietgat policing precincts,” said Nevhuhulwi.

To tackle the trend, she said, a task team of detectives was established in Tshwane district to deal with such cases.

She said: “The team has continued to make inroads in arresting suspects in connection to these robberies. On February 7, 2024, they arrested a 38-year-old man in connection with a Loate case (in which) two victims were kidnapped at gunpoint in Winterveld during November, 2022, after they responded to an online advertisement for a music mixer.”

Nevhuhulwi said while the fourth industrial revolution has brought about an insight on e-commerce it has also “created a platform for criminals to target unsuspecting victims, especially those using e-hailing services and selling or buying products on social media, particularly FaceBook Marketplace''.

Gauteng SAPS acting provincial commissioner, Major-General Tommy Mthombeni, commended the team for their efforts and dedication in arresting the suspects.

He also urged the public to always be vigilant and smart when using online platforms.

Consumers have been advised to avoid communicating with buyers or sellers outside Facebook and not share their personal information such as banking details or physical address.

“If you are meeting a buyer or seller in person, arrange to meet in a public and well-lit area or at the nearest police station,” police said.

Additionally, police said consumers can do more research on the buyer or seller by visiting their private Facebook profile and “a red flag is raised when his or her profile was only recently created”.

Nevhuhulwi said: “Any criminal activities can be reported at the nearest police station or via the Crime Stop Line at 08600 10111.”

Pretoria News