COVID-19 scam: INTERPOL arrests two for defrauding German company of 14.7m Euros

THE Cybercrime Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, INTERPOL, National Central Bureau, Abuja says it has arrested two persons for their complicity in a major multi-million Euro scam relating to procurement of  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The Police in a statement on Sunday said the suspects, Babatunde Adesanya a.k.a Teddy, 50 year-old Master degree holder in Cell Biology and Akinpelu Hassan Abass, 41-year- old, the Managing Director of Musterpoint Investment Nig. Ltdwere arrested in connection with the scam that worth 14.7 million Euro.

The statement explained that the duo who are members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network, cloned the corporate website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland to transact with and defraud one Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn, a representative of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

According to the police, the arrest of the suspects followed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) received by the Bureau from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation with a request from the German Government for investigations into a fraudulent transaction on the procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment linked to a Nigerian-based bank account.

It further stated that investigation by the Nigeria arm of the INTERPOL showed that the suspects and their Holland-based cohorts, Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder specialized in identity theft, cyber-stalking, cloning of corporate websites among others.

The suspects, police said, fraudulently obtained the sum of 1.5m Euro and another 880,000 Euro as advanced payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs valued at 14.7 million Euros from  Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn.

Due to the non-arrival of the purchased items, Von Hahn eventually visited the corporate office of ILBN Holdings BV in Holland where he was told that the company never did business with him and that the transaction was a scam, police said.

“Consequently, he reported the case of fraud to the Police in Holland and this led to the arrest of Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder in Holland and investigations extended to Nigeria.

“The investigation by INTERPOL Nigeria further revealed that Babatunde Adesanya received 498,000 Euro from Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder through his Citibank London account and transferred same to an account number domiciled with a Lagos branch of a leading commercial bank in Nigeria belonging to Musterpoint Investment Nig. Ltd,” the police statement read.

The INTERPOL stated that the suspects would be arraigned before a competent court of law soon for the alleged fraud.

    However, in a video seen by The ICIR,  the suspects maintained that they were not aware that the funds were fraudulently obtained.

    According to Abass, sometime in April 2020, Adesanya who is his best friend’s brother consulted him asking if he had a Euros account that he could use to bring in funds from Holland stating that fund was meant for the construction of a hotel and tourism centre in Nigeria.

    Abass said about two to three days later, the funds were sent into his account in three tranches before he was called by his bank in Nigeria to give explanations on the details of the fund stating that it was from a fraudulent transaction.

    He was eventually arrested on August 15 alongside Adesanya by men of the INTERPOL branch of the Nigeria Police Force in Lagos State.

    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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