Love Prank: Group is deliverable

Henry

The offenses of which members of the Black Ax syndicate are accused do make them extraditable to the United States of America, the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court found.

“The court also found that the certificate issued by the USA is binding and there is enough evidence to prosecute the group,” says Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the National Prosecution Authority.

The eight accused were arrested in Cape Town in October 2021 by the Hawks, the US Federal Detective Service (FBI) and Interpol in connection with offenses in South Africa and America. They are suspected of international internet fraud after they targeted widows and divorced women through social media and defrauded them out of more than $6.8 million.

According to the US indictment, the accused, Perry Osagiede, Enorense Izevbiege, Franklin Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, Musa Mudashiru, Prince Ibeabuchi Mark and Toritseju Gabriel Otubu, are all leaders of the organization Neo Black Movement of Africa, better known as Black Axe. Black Ax’s organization is based in Benin City, Nigeria, but has branches in several countries. The accused were all leaders of the organization in Cape Town. Osagiede started the Cape Town branch of Black Axe. The Black Ax defendants and other members of Black Ax participate in and openly discuss fraud schemes among their members.

The US wants to prosecute the group on charges of online fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

Some of the accused are said to be in South Africa illegally, because their passports have expired.

Ntabazalila says the state claims the suspects worked together in a group and contacted possible victims by email or made contact with them on social media, including through dating websites.

“They used false identities and photos and convinced the victims that they were in a romantic relationship with the online persona they created. These were usually engineers or managers who apparently work on a project in South Africa. The group then persuaded the victims to send them money.”

The case began on 28 January 2022 and all eight respondents appeared under one case number, represented by one group of legal representatives.

The defendants argued that, under the extradition treaty between South Africa and the USA, they are only extraditable to the USA if the charges against them in the USA are also prosecutable charges in South Africa, and according to them this is not the case .

Magistrate Arntsen dismissed their application and found that the charges of online fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft were indeed extraditable offences. The certificate issued by the USA under section 10(2) of the Extradition Act also complies with the provisions of the Extradition Act and the court found that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the respondents in the USA.

“The NPA welcomes the decision of the court. This is the first step towards a successful extradition of the accused to the USA. They will stand trial in that country on the charges against them,” says Ntabazalila.

The extradition hearing against Osagiede and others will resume on 19 February 2024. Otubu, who requested that his case be separated from the others, will appear in court again on April 12, 2024.