Three suspects, allegedly impersonating Hawks investigators, were arrested in an undercover operation on Wednesday.
The suspects, aged between 33 and 51, with one posing as a Major General, were arrested by the Serious Corruption Investigation unit at a hideout in Midrand, the Hawks said.
The arrest followed a complaint from a prominent businessman about a person pretending to be a Hawks Major General, soliciting money to have a case that he is allegedly implicated in, disappear.
An investigation was launched into the allegations and it emerged immediately that there was no such Major General within the Hawks.
On Wednesday afternoon, the three suspects were lured into a police trap and were immediately arrested and various items were seized.
Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, described the arrest as a breakthrough in policing as the reports are muddying the image of the police.
“We have been receiving numerous complaints of scams by so-called Hawks members targeting high profile people in the country both in government and in private business demanding cash to throw away cases.
“We believe there is a syndicate that is using false Hawks credentials to rob and scam people and investigations are underway to locate the masterminds behind this criminal conduct,” Lebeya said.
Lebeya explained that the Hawks will not call anyone and demand money.
He urged the public to report any potential scam attempts to their local police stations where it can be shared with law enforcement.
The three suspects are expected to appear at the Midrand Magistrate’s Court on Friday facing charges of corruption and extortion. Further charges cannot be ruled out.