‘We used fake Customs car auctioning to defraud people’
A Lagos State-based businessman, Adeniyi Adegboyega, has narrated how some fake officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), who he met onFacebook, defrauded him of N4.3 million.
Adegboyega was defrauded of the sum in a phony car auction deal. Operatives of the Inspector-General of Police, Special Response Team (IRT), led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari, have arrested two members of the syndicate.
It was learnt that the operatives had to travel to Ewan area of Akoko, Edo Local Government Area, Edo State and walked into a village, which local security operatives claimed was infested with criminals.
Although members of the syndicate fled, the operatives were able to arrest two, Saturday and Lucky Amos.
The hunt for members of the syndicate started after Adegboyega wrote a petition to the IG, Mohammed Adamu. In his petition, Adegboyega complained that the suspects, who he met on Facebook, made him to believe that they were genuine Customs officers on auction exercise.
He said: “I became friends with a Facebook user, Olaiya Funke, since 2019. On May 23, Olaiya Funke sent me an advertisement on the Nigeria Customs Service auction sales for 2019. Olaiya Funke introduced me to Mohammed Mutari and Bello Abbas who claimed that they were Customs officers. They offered to process some vehicles and deliver them to me. They asked me to pay N650,000 for a Lexus RX330, but I didn’t make any payment.
“Again, another set of individuals, who identified themselves as Uduak Effiong, Khadijat and Garba approached me on Facebook. They also asked me to buy a Mercedes Benz E350, 2010 Model sets and another two sets of Toyota Hiace buses for N650,000, each.
They sent me account numbers belonging to Mbu Ebhat, Obhasi David, Jacob Dennis Okiemute and Kokten Monday Kinben, using UBA, First and GT banks. I paid a total sum of N4.3 million into those accounts. After making the payments, all the officers refused to pick my calls. I reported the matter to IRT, who trailed the suspects to their home town in Edo State and arrested them.”
The IRT operatives were said to have used one of the phone numbers, used by the suspects in defrauding Adegboyega, to track them.
During investigation, IRT operatives discovered that the community was a haven for internet fraudsters. It was also learnt that the suspects used to take advantage of the single road leading into the community to prevent security operatives from arresting suspected fraudsters in the community.
A police source said: “When we got to the local police station, nearest to the community, we were warned to be careful as most of the young men in that community were into crime. We were also told that they do not allow police to come into their community to make arrest. The police there said that such attempt usually leads to policemen being ambushed. We were able to sneak into the community and arrested two of the suspects in their sleep. They have since confessed to the crime.”
One of the suspects, Saturday, 24, claimed he embraced fraud because of unemployment.
He said: “I was arrested because I have been impersonating the Nigeria Customs Service officer in charge of auctioning. I started this fraud this February. It was Jimoh, who ran out of our community during the last communal crisis that taught me the business.”
Revealing his modus operandi, Saturday said: “I’ll open a Facebook account, displaying me as a Customs officer in charge of auctioning. I will also advertise lots of vehicles and bags of rice, claiming they were available for auctioning. I also used to place cheap prices on the vehicles, so as to make them attractive to greedy people.”
Recollecting his first achievement, Saturday said: “I defrauded one Samuel of N45,000. He wanted to buy bags of rice. I offered him the bags of rice for N5,500; he said that he wanted to buy 50 bags. He said he would deposit N15,000 and promised to balance up after he received the delivery. I accepted and he paid us the money, but we then changed the story and told him that the bags of rice had been seized by another set of Customs officers. We told him that we needed N30,000 to resolve the matter. He sent the money and immediately after that, we stopped picking his calls.”
Saturday explained that he wasn’t the person that started or brought the job of defrauding Adegboyega. He confessed that other members of the syndicate were China and Junior. He described Junior as the ‘catcher’ in the syndicate.
Saturday said that he thought Adegboyega was defrauded only of N450,000, but was shocked to hear that it was N4.3 million after he was arrested and taken to police station.
Recounting the role he played in the business, Saturday said: “I called Adegboyega that to deliver his vehicle; I needed money for fuel and oil. He gave me N150,000. I called him after a while and told him that the vehicle had been seized. I told him to call the people that sold the vehicle to him. When he called them, they collected more money from him. Yes, they were my members, but they didn’t tell me the amount they collected from the man. If they had told me they collected such a huge amount of money from Adegboyega, I would have known how to deal with it. The only money I took from the man was just N150,000, and I got N50,000 as my share.
“The boys who defrauded the man are still walking free in my village. I wish that the police would arrest them.”