The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has strengthened the onslaught against the ubiquitous internet fraudsters popularly known as ‘yahoo boys’, who operate by scamming unsuspected members of the public using the internet.
The anti-graft agency has made impressive strides in the last three months bursting the wire criminals in their hideouts and seizing the proceeds of their illicit trade. The EFCC has also arraigned and obtained numerous convictions against the yahoo boys and other criminal elements, whose stock in trade is to scam innocent people across the country.
The Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Zonal office of the EFCC, on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 arraigned one Igwe Prince Chukwuebuka before Justice I.M. Sani of the Federal High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, on a three-count charge bordering on internet fraud and obtaining money under false pretense to the tune of N2, 400, 000. 00 (Two Million, Four Hundred Naira only).
One of the charges read: “That you Igwe Chukwuebuka Prince, (Alias Andrews Grant and Collins Williams) on or about the 3rd March, 2019, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did use the sum of Two Million Four Hundred Thousand Naira (N2,400,000) to purchase a Toyota Camry 2008 model with registration number Imo NGN 240 MX and chassis number 4TIBK46K371155669 which sum you reasonably ought to know form part of proceeds from an unlawful act to wit: obtaining by false pretense thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibitions ) Act No 11, 2011 ( as amended) and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.
Justice Sani however, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N5, 000,000, (Five Million Naira) and a surety in like sum. He ordered the remand of the defendant in the EFCC custody and adjourned the matter till January 19, 2021 for continuation of trial.
According to the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, Chukwuebuka ran into trouble when, upon credible intelligence, a team of EFCC operatives raided a hideout of suspected internet fraudsters in Omoku, Port Harcourt, where he was arrested. Items such as a white 2008 Toyota Camry car and an infinix X571 mobile phone were recovered from him.
Further investigation showed that he was involved in the impersonation of foreigners to defraud both local and international victims.
In a related development, the EFCC obtained the conviction of another internet fraudsters, Babuwa Christopher, who bagged five-year jail term in Kaduna state.
Justice Mohammed Tukur of the Kaduna State High Court sitting in Kaduna convicted and sentenced Christopher, a student of Quantity Survey, Kaduna State Polytechnic, to five years imprisonment for fraud.
The defendant was convicted after he pleaded guilty to an amended one count criminal charge.
The charge reads,” that you Babuwa Christopher of No. 3 Maha Close, Barnawa, Kaduna sometime in July, 2020 in Kaduna within the judicial Division of this Honourable Court with intent to commit an offence, had in your possession documents containing false pretence to wit; Union Bank Visa Card bearing Maduka M.O, Union Bank Visa Card with name Peter, Union Bank Visa Card of Jatau Richard, United Bank of Africa( UBA) debit card bearing the name ThankGod and Diamond Bank Master Card with unidentifiable name and you thereby committed an offence of attempt to commit cheating contrary to Section 57 of the Penal Code Law, 2017 of Kaduna State and punishable under section 307 of the same Law”
Justice Tukur, convicted and sentenced Christopher to five years imprisonment with an option of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) fine.
The anti-corruption agency then shifted focus to Makurdi in Benue State, where its operatives at the zonal office there nabbed a serial impostor named Patience Simon Robert, who, while posing as an officer of the EFCC, allegedly defrauded many people with propositions of employment in the EFCC and Nigeria Customs Service.
According to Uwujaren, Patience was arrested following a complaint by a victim whom he collected N1.5million from under the pretext of helping to secure jobs for his children in the EFCC. The complainant equally revealed that the suspect tricked his younger brother to part with the sum of N300, 000 after promising to get his children employed in the Nigeria Customs Service.
Investigation revealed that the suspect had severally been arrested for impersonation and fraud by the Nigeria Police and other agencies. It was discovered that she had been charged to a Magistrate Court in Minna, Niger State for impersonation and obtaining money under false pretence. She allegedly obtained over N11million from several victims with propositions of job offers in various agencies while parading herself as a staff of the EFCC.
The suspect also defrauded another victim in Abuja to the tune of N4.5 million while posing as ‘Director of Civil Intelligence’ in EFCC. She would be charged to Court as soon investigation is concluded, Uwujaren noted.
In the South West, the Ibadan Zonal Office of the EFCC, on Tuesday, October 20, arrested two ladies, Jumoke Ayodele and Opeoluwa Temitayo, for an attempt to smuggle substances believed to be hard drug to suspects in the custody of the zonal office.
The substance, according to a medical officer with the Commission, is ‘colorado drug’ noted for having dire psychological effect on its abusers. The ladies on their part admitted that the substance was a hard drug, meant for the consumption of the detainees.
To convey the drugs, the duo wrapped them in small cellophane packs, and tucked them inside sausages they brought for the detainees.
Though EFCC detainees are fed by the Commission, they are nonetheless allowed to receive meals from their visiting relatives, which are carefully evaluated by the Commission’s officers to ensure that the detainees do not come to harm as a result of what they ingest.
The suspects, Itiowe Kelvin, Oluwatobi Damilola, and Ayodele David were among those arrested during a recent raid on suspected internet fraudsters in the state.
The ladies will be handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for further investigation and possible prosecution, the EFCC said.
Overall, in the month of October alone, the anti-graft agency has made significant progress in arresting the criminals but they have defied all the arrests, prosecution, and imprisonment as more people especially the youth are neck-deep into internet scam and other forms of criminal enterprise.
The EFCC has steadily warned members of the public to be wary of the antics of the criminals, who have devised varied means to defraud people.