Fraudulent airtime worth R5 million was seized in Springs on Monday by the Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) tracing unit and public order police.
According to EMPD spokesman Clifford Shongwe, three Somali nationals aged between 23 and 26 were arrested for illegally manufacturing the airtime.
“The suspects confessed that they had initially started to manufacture airtime in Joburg, but they moved to Springs to develop further as there was a greater demand for it.”
An airtime manufacturing machine was also seized.
“They said they bought the machine from a person in Joburg. The machine in their possession printed airtime numbers that worked and were usable,” Shongwe explained.
He confirmed that the airtime made by the men was from several service providers, including MTN, Cell C and Vodacom.
“They would print the airtime with the special numbers used to recharge and sell it to small shops in various areas in Ekurhuleni, who would then sell the airtime to customers.”
Shongwe said it was unclear how long they had been operating for or the amount of airtime sold to spaza shops prior to the bust.
The suspects were detained at Springs police station.
They had shown no remorse for their actions and were laughing, Shongwe added.
The suspects are expected to appear in the Springs Magistrate’s Court soon.