Western Cape Court rules that alleged Black Axe ‘romance scammers’ be extradited to the US

Seven members of the Black Axe romance scam at at Pollsmoor Prison. Photographer: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Seven members of the Black Axe romance scam at at Pollsmoor Prison. Photographer: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 20, 2024


The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court has ruled that the alleged members of the Black Axe syndicate are to be extradited to the US.

On Tuesday, Magistrate Ingrid Arntsen found that there was sufficient evidence to warrant their prosecution.

According to the Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) the court found that the certificate that was issued by the US binds the court and there was enough evidence to prosecute the accused.

The seven accused - all Nigerians - linked to the alleged romance scam are: Perry Osagiede, Enorense Izevbiege, Franklin Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, Musa Mudashiru and Prince Ibeabuchi Mark.

The eighth accused, Toritseju Gabriel Otubu, won his application to have his extradition enquiry separated from his co-accused.

He is out on more than R200,000 bail.

“Judgment will be delivered on his extradition on April 12,” said NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

The accused face charges of wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

The State alleged the accused, working as a collective, would contact potential victims by email or reach out to them on social media, including online dating websites.

“Using false identities and representations, the respondents and their co-perpetrators would convince victims they were in romantic relationships with the online personas they fabricated, which often purport to be engineers and managers working on a project in South Africa.

“The accused would then allegedly sway their victims to send money directly or to permit others to send money through their financial accounts, to South Africa.”

Ntabazalila said the case has been in court since January 2022.

Otubu has also applied for the court to make a ruling as to how the principle of double criminality is to be applied in this extradition hearing.

“The court decided that since the ruling would affect other respondents, they should be allowed to address the court.”

Ntabazalila said the court ordered that the accused be sent to Pollsmoor Prison to await the decision of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services regarding their surrender.

“They may within 15 days appeal the order of the court.”

Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Nicolette Bell welcomed the ruling.

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