Operatives of the Abuja Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Have uncovered yet another underworld ‘academy’ for the grooming of internet fraudsters.
The ‘academy’ located in the Arab Contractors Area of Mpape Hills, a suburb of Abuja, was discovered when operatives, acting on intelligence, stormed the base on Thursday, February 18, and arrested 27 internet fraud suspects.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has convicted and sentenced two internet fraudsters, Salaam Akeem and Abiodun ThankGod Omoh, to six months imprisonment.
Both Akeem and Omoh were arraigned on September 23, 2020, on separate count charges bordering on possession of fraudulent documents containing false pretence, after they were arrested within the Lekki axis of Lagos sometime in July 2020 by operatives of the Lagos Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The defendants both pleaded guilty to the offences when they were arraigned.
In view of their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Ahmed Yerima, reviewed the facts of the matter before the court, tendered the fraudulent documents printed from their accounts and further urged the court to convict them accordingly.
Justice Taiwo found the defendants guilty of the offence and sentenced them to six months imprisonment each.
The Judge also ordered the forfeiture of all items recovered from the convicts to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In a similar development, Justice Mojisola Dada of the State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos has convicted and sentenced another internet fraudster, Rasheed Olanrewaju, to one-year imprisonment.
Rasheed was arrested sometime in July 2020, following intelligence on the activities of young men who were involved in online scam around the Lekki axis of Lagos.
Upon his arraignment on September 25, 2020, Olanrewaju pleaded guilty to the offence.
In view of his plea, the prosecution counsel, Ahmed Yerima, reviewed the facts of the matter before the court, tendered some documents and also urged the court to convict him accordingly.
Consequently, Justice Dada found him guilty and sentenced him to one-year imprisonment, with an option of fine of N350, 000.00(Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira).
The Judge also ordered the forfeiture of all items found on him to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Lagos Zonal Office, has arrested five persons for their alleged involvement in internet-related fraud, including a famous skit maker and self-acclaimed social media influencer, identified by the name Adedamola Adewale a.k.a @adeherself.
The five suspects were apprehended in different areas of Lagos during a raid by operatives.
According to the EFCC, the social media influencer who originally goes by the name Lamina Hamzat Ajibola, had been an accomplice to Adewale and both were arrested at the Agungi area of Lekki, Lagos State, while the trio of Israel Onyebuchi, Emmanuel Olayode and Valentine Nwokorie, were picked up at the Ibeju-Lekki area of the state.
“The arrest of Adewale and Ajibola was sequel to intelligence linking them to online fraudulent activities with two brothers, Lasisi Wasiu Adeleke and Lasisi Riliwan Adeniyi, who are at large. They were arrested at a four-bedroom duplex belonging to the two run-away fraudsters,” the EFCC said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Intelligence also linked them with alleged flamboyant lifestyles. During interrogation, Adewale, a self-acclaimed model, who goes by the username @adeherself on Instagram, confessed to being a picker” in cybercrimes.
“He usually poses as a lady to hoodwink her foreign preys,” the statement added.
Items recovered from the suspects include two Toyota Camry 2009 model cars, and a sum of N9,000,000.00 (Nine Million Naira only), which was found in Adewale’s account.
According to the EFCC, the other suspects; Onyebuchi, Olayode and Nwokorie were arrested for their alleged involvement in a romance scam. They were arrested during another raid, following a separate intelligence.
Investigation revealed that Nwokorie was posing as a female American citizen and sending photos as a porn star to defraud his victim while Onyebuchi was engaging in a love scam as well as forging foreign cheques.
Items recovered from the suspects include laptops and mobile phones and according to the anti-graft agency, all the suspects will soon be arraigned once investigations are concluded.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced a mother, Mrs Damilola Adeyeri and her son, Alaba Adeyeri, to three years in prison for defrauding an American to the tune of $82,570.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke convicted the mother and son of four counts bordering on “fraudulent trick business email compromise” filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
At the hearing on Tuesday, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Bilikisu Buhari, told the court that the mother and son conspired with one Kareem Russel, who is still at large, to defraud the Chief Executive Officer of American Cranes Manufacturing Company.
According to the EFCC counsel, they committed the offence in June 2017 and were arrested on September 6, 2019.
In the charge, the anti-graft agency explained that Mrs Adeyeri and her son carried out the fraud by “dishonestly representing themselves as the CEO of American Cranes Manufacturing Company and thereafter, sent an email from [email protected] with intent to gain advantage to themselves.”
The EFCC through its counsel also told the court that the convicts acted contrary to sections 27(1)(a) and 23(3) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and were liable to be punished under Section 22(1) of the same Act.
The offence was also said to have been contrary to sections 421 and 422 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C38.
Meanwhile, both Mrs Adeyeri and her son pleaded guilty to the four counts during the arraignment.
Consequently, Justice Aneke said he would temper justice with mercy because the convicts pleaded guilty to the charges immediately, rather than waste the time of the court.
He then sentenced them to three years’ imprisonment on each of the three counts but said the sentences would run concurrently.
The judge said despite the fact that the convicts immediately pleaded guilty and showed remorse, he had to mete out punishment in accordance with the relevant laws to serve as a deterrent to others.
After sentencing the convicts, the prosecutor urged the court to forfeit to the Federal government of Nigeria, the sum of N38.8 million, used to buy a property with Adron Homes and Properties, as well as the sum of N21.6 million in the account of Crystal High Homes, domiciled in Polaris bank, N10 million belonging to Alaba Karrem Adeyemi, domiciled in Polaris Bank, $24, 585 USD and another N421, 329, 00 belonging to Mrs Adeyeri and domiciled in Polaris Bank and an IPhone.
The prosecutor’s request was granted as Justice Aneke ordered the forfeiture of the funds and iPhone to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has adjourned further hearing in the case involving Afeez Fashola, a.k.a Naira Marley, to February 27, 2020.
He is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged conspiracy and credit card fraud.
At the resumed sitting on Thursday, the first prosecution witness, PW1, Dalhatu Buhari, who was cross-examined by the defendant’s counsel, Olalekan Ojo, (SAN), told the court that he did not need a password to access the defendant’s computer by the standards of his training.
He added that cybersecurity training was available to anyone.
When asked if any expert in cybersecurity could access a computer and do what he likes on it in relation to the credit card details that were found on the defendant’s computer, the witness said “It is not possible for just any expert in cybersecurity to access a computer and do anything he likes on it.
Earlier in the trial, the head of the forensic department at the Lagos zonal office of the EFCC, Nuru Buhari, testified that various stolen credit card information were retrieved from the musicians’ laptop.
Apart from the stolen credit card information, website visit history recovered from the device showed that the top five most visited sites dealt with buying and selling stolen credit card information.
But he (Naira Marley) has pleaded not guilty to all the allegations.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) has explained how suspected internet fraudster and social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha aka Mompha; and his Lebanese accomplice, Hamza Koudeih were arrested after allegedly laundering the sum of N33billion.
According to a statement on the website of the anti-graft agency, Koudeih is a Lebanese, resident in Lagos, Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower
“He has high net worth allies that include social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha popularly known as (Mompha), whom the Commission picked up on Friday, 18 October 2019 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, while he was on his way to Dubai, United Arab Emirate. Mompha’s arrest laid the path to that of Koudeih,” the statement read in part.
EFCC also added that Mompha camouflages as a bureau de change operator and has used his firm-Ismalob Global Investments Limited-to launder about N14 billion while Koudeih through his THK Services Limited and CHK properties Limited has laundered about N19 billion.
“Evidently, the two are kingpins in a criminal web of cybercriminals who through the three firms, laundered a jaw-dropping N33 billion.
“Before the arrest, EFCC added that both men had featured on its and United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) radar as a high valued target in Organised Cyber Syndicate Network (OCSN) and particularly as honchos in a trans-national network of cybercriminals.
“Worrisome is that Mompha was able to successfully operate 51 fraudulent bank accounts, through which the monies were laundered even with the enhanced account tracking and surveillance which the Bank Verification Number (BVN), introduced by the Central Bank of Nigerian in February 2014 provides,” the statement added.
Revealing how Koudeih was arrested in his house in Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, the commission said, “Armed with precision Intel, additionally gathered by the EFCC, its operatives tracked him to his lair in Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower and placed the piece of the real estate, where he has his apartment on a lockdown.
“The lack of cooperation from the Lebanese as well as that from the owners and administrators of Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower left the EFCC with two options-beats a retreat or muscle through. It settled for the latter, reinforcing with men and breaching tools against the armoured door.
“The operatives relentlessly deployed the tools against the door, expending more than three gruelling hours before they overcame.”
Head Cybercrime, EFCC, describing the arrest said “It was very difficult to gain entry. It was almost like a standoff. We had to send for reinforcement of officers and breaching tools from the office. We had to breach the triple-reinforced fire-proof door before we could get in.”
The Acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, said Koudeih and Mompha’s arrests are landmark achievements for the EFCC in its fight against cyber crimes and a red alert to potential fraudsters.
US authorities on Thursday announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs.
Federal prosecutors unsealed the dozens of indictments after 17 people were arrested and taken into custody in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States.
Most of the remainder of those indicted were believed to be in Nigeria, the US Justice Department said.
The suspects allegedly targeted the lovelorn, the elderly, and small and large businesses, using a variety of scams to persuade their victims to send money over the internet.
“Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly,” the Justice Department said.
The indictment alleges that at least $6 million in fraudulently obtained funds were transferred through a money-laundering network run by two Nigerians — Valentine Iro, 33, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38.
They were among those arrested.
Attempted thefts amounted to at least $40 million, it said.
“Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims,” said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
Nasarawa State Government has decried the rate of cyber-crimes among young people.
The State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, therefore, pledged to provide job opportunities for the youths in the state through the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
Sule stated this on Thursday during the Consumer Outreach Programme organised by the Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC held in Lafia, the Nasarawa State Capital.
Stressing the importance of ICT to the growth and development of the society, the governor revealed the state government’s resolve to establish ICT hubs that will enhance the knowledge of youths in the sector as ICT remains the trend globally.
Represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Nasarawa State Abuja Liaison Office, John Thomas, Sule decried the growing trend of internet fraud and the need for caution from concerned parties, just as he urged regulatory authorities to adopt modalities that will put an end to the trend.
The governor also called on the telecom service providers to ensure full telecom coverage across the state in order to ensure that the industrial revolution is fully achieved in the state.
The Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Felicia Onwuebuchulam also at the event noted that the programme was organised to reach out to telecom consumers and operators to underscore the problem in the sector as it seeks to inform and educate the consumers on the best way to overcome the challenges they often encounter.
“It is our belief at the NCC that one of the most effective ways to protect telecom consumers from the effects of cybercrimes is through continuous consumer education and awareness,” she said.
Felicia added that the commission deemed it necessary to organise such fora across the country so as to enhance its regulatory framework as well as further educate the people on the growing effect of cybercrime in the society and how to curb the system.
Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Ismail Adedigba said realising the liberation of the telecoms industry has led to increasing the usage of internet-based solutions and services.
According to him, the NCC has initiated a process to establish an Internet Industry Code of Practice for internet service providers in the country.
He emphasised that telecom consumers must play their roles in minimising the effect of cybercrime by availing themselves for such educative and informative meetings as the outreach programme.
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Port Harcourt’s Zonal Office, have arrested fifteen suspected internet fraudsters in a late- evening raid on Blue Chip Hotels, Rumuigbo, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The suspects, who are between the ages of 18 and 30, were nabbed while relaxing in their hotel hide – out. Their arrest followed surveillance and intelligence reports on their activities and a response to the resolve of the Acting Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu to rid the nation of internet fraudsters.
Among the suspects are five young ladies and ten young men. They are: Tamunotonye Tolofari; Isaac Michael; Kingdom Ekekwu; Daniel Uwalaka; Godswill Agwu; Innocent Daniel; Prince Amaya; Tiemo Ipite; Nduah Gentle; Stella Gbarakoro; Christiana Cletus; Anita Jane; Best Noble, Nduah Precious and Emeka Chibuike Emeka.
Items recovered from them are laptops and phones. The suspects have made useful statements to the Commission and would soon be charged to court.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned nine of the 20 suspected internet fraudsters arrested and handed over to the Commission by the Joint Task Force of the 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Benin.
The suspects were arraigned before Justice A. M Liman of the Federal High Court 1, Benin on separate charges bordering on conspiracy to commit felony to wit: obtaining money under false pretence. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
One of the charge reads in part; “that you Osaugwu Uchenna Kingsley (alias Sam Henric), Robinson Lucky (alias Justin Parker), Larry Edomwonyi (alias Mark Erixson), Amovie Mike (alias Jeffery Ares), Itua Samuel Robinson (alias Park Wetty, King Harry ), Iyen Oghodaro Destiny, Adesa Lucky Rute ( alias Peter Anderson, Eric Stern etc), Egbeifo John Endurance and Egbeniyi Oluwafemi ( alias Raymond Morrison, Mavis Mar) at No. 56 Siluko Road , Benin City within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire with one Dennis Osagie and others now at large to commit felony to wit: obtaining money under false pretence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act”.
Justice Liman granted the accused persons bail in the sum of N1million each and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a civil servant and the other must own a landed property within the jurisdiction of court.
He ordered that the suspects be remanded in prison custody and adjourned to 4th, 13th and 19th of March respectively.
The suspected fraudsters were arrested on January 18, 2013 when men of the Joint Task Force, 4 Brigade, Benin in a surprise raid, stormed their cyber office tucked in an old building located on Siluko Road, Benin City. They were subsequently handed over to the Commission for further investigation and prosecution.
At the point of arrest, the fraudsters had in their possession forty five (45) laptops of different make, twenty eight (28) telephone sets, eight (8) internet mobile modems and one Nissan car with registration number USL 375 AG.
Dickson, 32 was in search of money. He turns to the internet in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece. One cold evening in September 2011, while browsing through the Facebook site, he meets Jane, a 28-year-old banker. As the two friends continued their daily chats Dickson began to generate strategies to scam his new Facebook friend.
Recently, social media including facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo/Google/Blackberry Messengers, Google+, 2go etc have been used for different activities – business, pleasure and networking.
While some use social media as a means to showcase products and services, others use it for pleasure and a way to meet new people.
Still others use social media for sinister purposes with intentions of harming others or defrauding them.
According to Wikipedia, Social media includes web- and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals.
The benefit of a social media is found in the connections that get drawn between those that participate. Connecting people, recommending resources, identifying expertise, and distributing content are all benefits to those who participate in and use these sites.
For instance, in the story of Dickson and Jane, though the former intended to defraud the latter, after having a blind date for almost one year, they agreed to meet in Lagos and once that was done, they ended up falling in love. Just three months Dickson and Jane got married.
There are numerous other examples of people who have built a wholesome relationship that began from a social media website. Some have gotten their dream jobs via social media. Others are growing a thriving business on social media.
A simple broadcast from Facebook or Blackberry can send a message to millions of people in different parts of the world.
Like everything in life, if there are merits, there would also be demerits. People with malevolent intentions have capitalized on the ease of communication presented by social media to perpetrate their evil acts.
For instance, I am yet to understand how someone would sit somewhere and spend precious time in typing a lengthy message with false alarm like the cosmic ray nonsense that was circulating on Blackberry Messenger last week.
Another instance and the most tragic was the one in the news this week. Some young undergraduate used the social media to lure an unsuspecting only child of a retired army General all the way from Nasarawa to Festac in Lagos.
According to the news, Ezekiel Nnechuwu Olisa Eloka had spent over four months on Facebook with Cynthia Akuzogwu Udoka. Cynthia obviously thought she had found a friend in Eloka. Unfortunately she was wrong.
Eloka recounted how he treated his guest and facebook friend thus:
“When she got to Lagos, we took her to a hotel in Festac. We thought she had a lot of money, but she said she didn’t have any money.
We put a drug in her Ribena drink. After this, we slept with her for 12 hours in that hotel. We discovered that the tablet did not work quickly on her.
“We then attacked her, tied her up and used cello tape to cover her mouth. After that, we beat her to tell us where she kept the money.”
“When we didn’t get any money from her, we tied her mouth and strangled her and then we abandoned her in the hotel and fled.”
Get the juice from social media with care
In the midst of fraudsters, serial killers, assassins and people with different motives on social media platforms, how can you make the best of this powerful internet tool without regrets.
In the video below, an internet expert, Mercy Abang sheds light on what to watch out for while using the social media platforms.