The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has cracked down on a gang of fraudsters who specialise in exploiting personal data of foreign-based Nigerians to defraud their friends and relations back home.
Four of the gang-members; ‘Hon’ Oladipupo Adebayo, Bimbo Bilewu, Ibrahim Odunayo and Oyeleye Oluwatosin, are currently in the EFCC custody while others are still at large.
The Commission had launched a manhunt on the suspects after receiving a petition from one Professor Godwin Ekhaguere.
The Professor of Mathematics, who retired from the University of Ibadan, alleged in the petition that the gang defrauded him of sums totalling N565,500.
He also alleged that the fraudsters made him to part with MTN recharge vouchers worth N36,000 in the deal.
According to him, ‘‘he only realised that he had been scammed after he managed to reach his friends on the phone, who denied sending anyone to him and that was what prompted the petition.”
In the course of investigating the allegations, the Commission arrested Bilewu at an ATM point where he went to cash the money sent to him by one Pastor Osuji, also a victim of a crime similar to that which the Commission was investigating.
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, who would be the one to make all sorts of requests ostensibly to clear some obstacles to delivering the consignments from the foreign-based ‘relation’ or ‘friend’, as the case may be.
Investigations into the Gang’s operations revealed that ‘they have a mobile application used in making a local number appear like a foreign number to the call recipient.’
The Gang members also use unregistered SIM cards to make their calls, to blur out chances of their real identities being traced.
Another trick to evade arrest, according to the EFCC investigations, ”was to open bank accounts in other people’s names and then take over the ATM cards, after which 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.