ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has apprehended a gang of fraudsters who harvest personal data of foreign-based Nigerians to defraud their friends and relations in Nigeria.
In a press statement signed by the Commission’s Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, he wrote that the EFCC had stormed the gang and apprehended four men.
The suspects, Oladipupo Adebayo, Bimbo Bilewu, Ibrahim Odunayo and Oyeleye Oluwatosi are currently in the EFCC custody while others are yet to be in their custody, he said.
According to Uwujaren, the EFCC had launched a manhunt on the suspects after receiving a petition from one Prof Godwin Ekhaguere, a professor of Mathematics, who alleged in the petition that the gang defrauded him of Five hundred and sixty five thousand, five hundred Naira.
Ekhaguere also alleged that the fraudsters made him send MTN recharge vouchers worth thirty six thousand Naira while he was being defrauded.
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 thereafter he sent a petition to the EFCC.
EFCC disclosed that 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.
Osuji was 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. He 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,” EFCC stated
The statement further revealed that investigations into the gang’s operations revealed that they have a mobile application used in making a local number appear foreign to the call recipient and also use unregistered SIM cards to make their calls in order to blur out chances of tracing their real identities.
EFCC further stated that one of the tricks 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 commission, however, noted that the suspects have owned up to the allegations against them, and are now helping the EFCC to investigate similar crime.