The South African Police Service (SAPS), in the Eastern Cape, has issued a warning to those who have not yet been hit by the latest ‘get out of jail free‘ scam that has picked up in the province.
According to police spokesperson, Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana, a task team has been formed to apprehend the key players of the syndicate that is using false identities of police officers and detectives to scam vulnerable families.
“The organisation took notice of this pattern in the recent weeks after receiving concerns from various individuals within the communities and police themselves,” Kinana revealed.
How the ‘get out of jail free’ scam works
He explained that they have received many complaints from families of prisoners, about how police officers are allegedly soliciting bribes to assist them with the release of their loved one, only to not follow through with their end of the deal.
This new method of phishing thousands of rand from desperate families is putting the name of the police in disrepute, Kinana said.
He warned that families who have relatives in prison need to understand that, besides law enforcement, only their legal representatives will be in contact with them regarding the relative’s criminal case.
“This, therefore, means that no third person may be involved or communicate on behalf of the complainants, relatives or accused persons other than their legal representatives,” he added.
According to Kinana, the affected families would receive a phone call from someone posing as a high-ranking police official with positive news concerning their imprisoned relative or loved one.
An underhanded offer for the release of the relative and for the case to go away would be tabled to the family, accompanied by a hefty price tag.
Any desperate family member — be it a parent or a partner — would, in most cases, jump at the sight of an opportunity to have their loved one released from prison.
“They use false names and ranks to introduce themselves as senior police officers who are bringing information in exchange for money.
“In some occasions, they use police member’s names to authenticate their calls and create false expectations as if they are able to get the suspects released by the police if relatives were to pay a particular amount of money,” Kinana explained.
“SAPS renders its services free of charge” – Kinana
Kinana has urged anyone who receives such a phone call, to approach the nearest police station and report the matter for investigation.
“The SAPS is not a money making organisation, but a government institution which renders its services free of charge and without conditions or strings attached,” he said.