JOHANNESBURG - The Hawks are investigating 54 people suspected to be part of a cross-continental cybercrime syndicate.
The group appeared at the Nigel Magistrate's court on Tuesday on allegations of defrauding thousands of people to the tune of R15-million, taking internet fraud to a new level.
The millions of rands that was pilfered through the notorious 4-1-9 scam has made this crime one of the biggest cybercrime busts in South African history.
Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko said: "These are people who will normally send people SMSes telling them they?ve won a lump sum. In return they will demand their particulars and in return people?s bank accounts will be looted."
The modus operandi ranges from opening fraudulent store accounts to accessing credit using cloned identities, through phishing scams.
In one day they are even alleged to have cleared R6.6-million from 21 different accounts.
Nine of the 54 accused, who are alleged to be the ringleaders, have been remanded in custody while the remaining suspects have been granted bail.
Some of the accused claim they are innocent, arguing that the gang used their bank accounts to commit fraud without their knowledge or consent.
The case has been postponed until the 26th of November for further investigations.
"We?ll continue nabbing syndicate members connected to this one," Ramaloko said, adding: "we are calling on members of the community who have fallen victim to a syndicate like this to come forth."
Authorities say this cyber crime ring is not only well resourced but have for a long time evaded any detection.
It is also understood that the alleged stolen amount of R15-million is just the tip of the iceberg of the crimes.