Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have arrested a gang of fraudsters who specialise in exploiting personal data of foreign-based Nigerians to defraud their friends and relations back home. READ ALSO
EFCC made this known in a statement that four of the gang-members – ‘Honourable’ Oladipupo Adebayo, Bimbo Bilewu, Ibrahim Odunayo and Oyeleye Oluwatosi, are currently in the EFCC custody while others are still at large.
EFCC had launched a manhunt on the suspects after receiving a petition from one Prof Godwin Ekhaguere.
The professor of Mathematics, who retired from the University of Ibadan, alleged in the petition that the gang defrauded him of 565,500 Naira. He also alleged that the fraudsters made him to part with MTN recharge vouchers worth 36,000 Naira in the deal.
According to him, the petition was prompted after he realised that he had been scammed. This was after he reached his friends on the phone, who denied sending anyone to him.
It was in the course of investigating the allegations that the Commission arrested Bilewu at an ATM point where he went to cash the money sent to him by one Pastor Osuji who was also a victim of a crime similar to Prof. Godwin which the Commission was investigating.
Reports revealed that the gang’s patterns of operation are similar in nature. One of them would call their would-be victim with the impression that he was an old-time friend, now based abroad. He would claim that he has a mouth-watering gift to be sent through someone who is allegedly coming home for an event.
The victim would then be handed over to the ‘home-bound’ member. He would be the one to ensure that there are no difficulties in delivering the consignments from the foreign-based ‘relation’ or ‘friend’.
Investigations into the gang’s operations showed that they have a mobile application used in making a local number appear foreign to the call recipient.
They also use unregistered SIM cards to make their calls in order to blur out chances of tracing their real identities.
Another trick to evade arrest, according to investigations, was to open bank accounts in other people’s names and take over the ATM cards from them. They direct their victims to pay into such accounts and use the ATM cards to withdraw the cash.
The suspects have owned up to the allegations against them, and are now helping the Commission in further investigations into crimes of similar nature.