₦492.7m Fraud: INTERPOL Extradites International Fraudster
By Adetokunbo FAKEYE
The Nigeria Police Force has warned the general public to exercise extreme caution when engaging in discussions or transactions that involve pecuniary obligations, as an international fraudster was arrested and extradited to Nigeria.
The Force spokesman, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, made this warning while updating media on successful extradition of suspect in a case of criminal conspiracy, fraud, and obtaining by false pretence said the extant case involves a complaint filed by one Mr. Akinola Bayo Michael, who, in October 2021, sought to obtain foreign exchange (forex) for the purpose of purchasing a machine from the Netherlands.
He said: "Mr. Michael sent a substantial sum of Four Hundred and Ninety Two Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (₦492,750,000) only to the bank account of Mr. Mohammed Sulaiman. However, instead of facilitating the forex transaction as agreed, Mr. Sulaiman transferred the funds to another individual, Mr. Mohammed Hassan Barau.
"Mr. Hassan Barau, who resides in the United Arab Emirates, subsequently sent 513,000 Euros to Mr. Michael from Belgium,
supposedly for the forex transaction.
"However, this transaction was flagged as fraudulent, leading Mr. Michael to return the funds to the sender. Realizing that he had been a victim of fraud, Mr. Michael made
multiple attempts to recover his money but was unsuccessful".
The case, he stated took a significant turn when it was assigned to INTERPOL which launched an investigation into the matter. Recognizing the severity of the fraud and its international dimension, INTERPOL placed the prime suspect, Mr. Mohammed Hassan Barau, on a red alert list, thereby
facilitating international cooperation in tracking and apprehending the suspect.
"We are pleased to inform you that Mr. Mohammed Hassan Barau was arrested by INTERPOL Abu Dhabi and subsequently extradited to Nigeria on 27th September 2023. His extradition marks a crucial milestone in the pursuit of justice for Mr. Akinola Bayo Michael.
"The successful extradition of Mr. Mohammed Hassan Barau demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies, both within and outside
Nigeria, to ensuring that perpetrators of criminal activities, particularly those with international ramifications, are held accountable for their actions.
"This case underscores the importance of vigilance and due diligence in financial transactions, especially in the era of increasingly sophisticated fraud schemes. We urge individuals and businesses to exercise caution and verify the legitimacy of financial transactions to prevent falling
victim to fraud", he said.
In another case of Fraudulent Conversion of Funds, Forgery, And Threat To Life, Adejobi said, the case centers around one Mrs. Ifeanyiwas Anthonia Ugoh, who filed complaint against one Peace Ekom Robert.
"On 30th January, 2023, Mrs. Ugoh had communicated with Peace Ekom Robert, indicating that she had access to a significant sum of 600,000 Euros for forex trading. In response, the suspect claimed to have a client requiring 780,000 Euros.
"To verify the authenticity of the suspect and her client, Mrs. Ugoh arranged for her client to make payments totaling 55,000 Euros in two installments. Subsequently, the suspect provided an account balance statement, allegedly showing a remarkable 5.3 billion Naira, demonstrating her client's financial capacity for the transaction.
"However, after conducting due diligence, Mrs. Ugoh discovered that the account balance statement provided by the suspect was forged.
"When she sought to recover the 55,000 Euros or its Naira equivalent, the
suspect falsely claimed that the account had been flagged by INTERPOL, even resorting to threats to dissuade Mrs. Ugoh from involving the police.
"Undeterred, Mrs. Ugoh reported the matter to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) Annex in Lagos, leading to the arrest of the suspect, Peace Ekom Robert. A friend of hers, one Hon. Ndiana Abasi, in a bid to broker peace between the parties voluntarily paid the sum of ₦15,000,000 (Fifteen Million Naira) of the total Naira equivalence of 42,900,000 (Forty Two Million, Nine Hundred Thousand Naira).
"Subsequently, Peace Ekom Robert was granted bail under the condition that she would pay the outstanding balance of 27,900,000 Naira in two installments, as witnessed by Hon. Ndiana-Abasi.
"Regrettably, the suspect failed to fulfill this commitment and absconded, evading the
"In a twist of events, the suspect petitioned the Inspector General of Police, resulting in the case being forwarded to the NPF National Cybercrime Centre (NCCC). Recognizing the similarity of cases involving the suspect, the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) was assigned to
harmonize the investigations.
"The suspect later attempted to arrange a meeting with Mrs. Ugoh to reconcile, but upon arrival, Mrs. Ugoh, accompanied by police officers, discovered that the suspect had come with officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to apprehend her.
"After realizing that the police were coordinating the case harmonization with the EFCC, the suspect ceased contact with them.
"Peace Ekom Robert was thereafter declared wanted alongside Ndiana Abasi who came forward and clarified his position in the matter and was thereupon cleared by the Police. The suspect, Peace Ekom, was
apprehended on 22nd September in Abuja after months of evading arrests.
"It has come to our attention that additional complainants with similar cases against her have started to come forward. We are committed to conducting thorough investigations, and upon the conclusion of our inquiries, the suspect will be brought to face legal consequences.
"We take this opportunity to encourage other victims of the suspect's fraudulent activities to come forward and cooperate in the harmonization of investigations. This collaborative effort is pivotal in ensuring that justice is served", Adejobi narrated.
Similarly, in a case of impersonation, fraud, and Obtaining Money Under False Pretenses, Adejobi explained that over the past two years, the IGP Monitoring Unit in concert with the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU) of the Nigeria Police have been investigating a criminal syndicate that has been perpetrating fraud against both serving and retired police officers.
"This syndicate operates by impersonating aides to high-ranking police officers, specifically the Personal Assistant to very senior police officers or the Director in charge of promotion at the Police Service Commission.
"The prime suspect in this case is one Ismaila Ayedade, who is currently at large. Ayedade, along with his accomplices, Nura Mohammed and Abubakar Iliyasu, uses various tactics to deceive their victims.
"They claim to be acting on behalf of high-ranking officers, promising promotions, postings, or even exoneration from disciplinary actions in exchange for monetary payments. They have also used the guise of auctioning SUV vehicles to entice victims.
"To date, this criminal syndicate has successfully defrauded both retired and serving police officers of over 100 million naira through various fraudulent schemes. They utilize different phone numbers and bank accounts to avoid detection. While the principal suspect, Ismaila Ayedade, remains at large, we have made significant progress in this case. Nura Mohammed and Abubakar Iliyasu have been apprehended and are currently in police custody.
"Ismaila Ayedade, the prime suspect in this case, is now officially declared as wanted by the Nigeria Police Force. We call on anyone with information regarding his whereabouts to come forward and assist in his apprehension. The arrested suspects, Nura Mohammed and Abubakar Iliyasu, will be charged to court soon to face the full weight of the law.
In a case of Criminal Conspiracy And Cyberbullying Involving Okoli Edoka Chioma And Erisco Foods Limited, Nagiko Tomato Paste.
The case, as confirmed by Adejobi, on 19th September, 2023, the Police received a petition from Erisko Foods Limited following a social media post on the Facebook platform, where Mrs. Okoli Edoka Chioma claimed to have purchased Nagiko Tomato Paste and subsequently provided a review of the product.
"Ms. Chioma's review of the Nagiko Tomato Paste included claims that the product contained excessive sugar and, more alarmingly, that it was causing harm and death to individuals who consumed it.
"These allegations were made publicly on her social media account, sparking
concern among members of the public and potentially damaging the reputation of Erisco Foods Limited and their product.
"Upon receiving information about these allegations, a thorough investigation was initiated. During the course of the investigation, several important findings were made including that Mrs. Chioma was
unable to provide any credible evidence or proof of purchase to substantiate her claims that she bought the Nagiko Tomato Paste nor could she provide any evidence or names of individuals who had allegedly been harmed or killed by consuming the product. Mrs. Chioma subsequently tendered an public apology for her earlier claims, acknowledging that her statements were false and unfounded.
"The investigation into this matter is ongoing, and upon its conclusion, appropriate legal action may be taken against Mrs. Okoli Edoka Chioma
in accordance with extant laws. The seriousness of making false and
damaging allegations on a public platform cannot be understated.
"The NPF therefore reminds the public that making unverified claims or spreading false information about products, individuals, or companies can have significant consequences. Such actions can damage
reputations, incite panic, and lead to unwarranted harm to businesses and individuals.
"In conclusion, the NPF urges members of the public to exercise responsibility and discretion when expressing their views and opinions, especially on social media platforms. False allegations, cyberbullying,
and unfounded claims can have far-reaching repercussions, both legally and socially", Adejobi stated.
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