The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has cracked a syndicate that specialised in accessing personal data of Nigerians based overseas to defraud their friends and relations back home.
This is contained in a statement signed by the commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren and made available to newsmen on Friday in Ibadan.
Newsmen report that four members of the gang have been arrested and in EFCC custody while others are at large.
Uwujaren said the commission had launched a manhunt on the suspects after receiving a petition from one Prof. Godwin Ekhaguere.
He said that Ekhaguere, a professor of Mathematics who retired from the University of Ibadan, had in the petition alleged that the gang defrauded him of sums totaling N565, 500.
Uwujaren said that the professor alleged that the suspected fraudsters also made him to part with MTN recharge vouchers worth N36, 000 in the scam.
“The victim only realised that he had been scammed after he managed to reach his friends on the phone, who denied sending anyone to him. That prompted the petition,” the agency’s spokesman said.
He said that the commission in the course of investigation arrested one of the suspects at an ATM point where he went to cash the money sent to him by one Pastor Osuji.
Uwujaren said that Osuji was also a victim of a crime similar to that which the commission was investigating.
He said that the gang’s pattern of operation was familiar; saying one of them would call their would-be victim with the impression that he was an old-time friend, now based abroad.
The commission’s spokesperson, said one of the suspects would claim that he has a mouth-watering gift to be sent through someone who was allegedly coming home for an event.
Uwujaren said that the victim would then be handed over to the ‘home-bound’ member, adding the suspect will make all sorts of requests ostensibly to clear some obstacles to delivering the consignments from the foreign-based relation or friend.
He said 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.
“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 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,” he said.
Uwujaren said that the suspects had since owned up to the allegations against them and are now helping the commission in its investigation.