EFCC Smashes ‘419’ Syndicate that Defrauded a Professor

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has cracked down on a gang of fraudsters who specialise in exploiting personal data of foreign-based Nigerians to defraud their friends and relations back home.

Four of the gang-members – ‘Hon.’ Oladipupo Adebayo, Bimbo Bilewu, Ibrahim Odunayo and Oyeleye Oluwatosi – are currently in the EFCC custody. Others are still at large.

The Commission had launched a manhunt on the suspects after receiving a petition from one Prof Godwin Ekhaguere.

The professor of Mathematics, who retired from the University of Ibadan, alleged in the petition that the gang defrauded him of sums totalling N565,500 (Five Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand, Five Hundred Naira). He also alleged that the fraudsters made him to part with MTN recharge vouchers worth N36,000 (Thirty-Six Thousand Naira) in the deal.

According to him, he 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.

It was in the course of investigating the allegations that the Commission arrested Bilewu at an ATM point where he went to cash the money sent to him by one Pastor Osuji.

Incidentally, Osuji was also a victim of a crime similar to that which the Commission was investigating.

The gang’s patterns of operation are similar in nature. One of them would call their would-be victim with the impression that he was an old-time friend, now based abroad. He would claim that he has a mouth-watering gift to be sent through someone who is allegedly coming home for an event. The victim would then be handed over to the ‘home-bound’ member. He would be the one to make all sorts of requests ostensibly to clear some obstacles to delivering the consignments from the foreign-based ‘relation’ or ‘friend’, as the case may be.

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, according to investigations, 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.

The suspects have owned up to the allegations against them, and are now helping the Commission in further investigations into crimes of similar nature.

Wilson Uwujaren
Head, Media & Publicity
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N2bn Fraud: Court Remands Maina in Prison

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja on October 25, 2019, ordered that Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team be remanded in Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), while his son, Faisal was remanded in the custody of Police Special Tactical Squad, Asokoro, Abuja.

The remand, followed their arraignment on multiple fraud and money laundering charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. While Maina was docked on a 12-count charge, bordering on operating fictitious bank accounts, fraud and money laundering, his son was slammed with three-counts of money laundering, corruption and lack of full disclosure of asset.

Count 10 of the charges against Maina reads: “That you Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina (alias Dr Abdullahi Faizal) between 2012 and 2016, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, took possession of an aggregate sum of N1,822,074,690.00 (One Billion, Eight Hundred and Twenty-two Million, Seventy-four Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety Naira), through your Fidelity Bank account (in the name of Dr Abdullahi A. Faizal), when you reasonably ought to have known that the said funds, formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption, and you hereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as (amended) and punishable under Section15(3) of the same Act.”

Count two of the charges against Faisal reads: “That you Faisal Abdulrasheed Maina, (alias Alh Faisal Abdullahi Farms), between October 2013 and June 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, controlled an aggregate sum of N58, 111,585.00 (Fifty-eight Million, One Hundred and Eleven Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty-five Naira) only, paid through the United Bank for Africa (UBA) account of Alh. Faisal Abdullahi Farms, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption of one Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, who is facing a separate charge and thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as (amended) and punishable under Section15(3) and (4) of the same Act.”

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to their separate charges, prompting the prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar to inform the court that he has his witnesses in court in readiness to commence trial.

However, the defence counsel, led by Ahmed Raji SAN, informed the court that there was a pending bail application, filed since October 22, which was due to be heard. He further argued that the defendants are entitled to adequate time to prepare for their defence.

But the prosecuting counsel, Abubakar described the bail applications as incompetent because it was filed before arraignment.

The Court however adjourned the matter to October 30 2019 for commencement of trial and that proceedings shall be on day-to-day basis.

Maina who had been hibernating in Dubai, United Emirates after he fled Nigeria in 2015 to escape arrest by the EFCC, sneaked into the country recently and was arrested, together with his son, Faisal, at a hotel in Jabi, Abuja by officers of the Department of State Service,DSS, on the request by the EFCC.

Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on Tuesday October 22, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of 23 choice properties linked to the defendant. The order was based on an exparte application by the EFCC, which argued in sworn affidavits, that the properties are believed to be proceeds of the illicit activities of the defendant. Consequently, the court ordered the Commission to cause a publication to be made in a national newspaper, inviting the defendant or any other person with interest in the properties to show cause, within 14 days, why the assets should not be finally forfeited to the federal government.

The properties include: Plot MF 19, Cadastral Zone, Karu, Abuja FCT. Acquired in mother’s name; Plot 18 Road F, Malali North East Residential Layout. Kaduna ;Flat 42C, SMC Quarters, Unguwan Dosa, Kaduna, Kaduna State. Acquired in suspected pseudo name; Plot No 965, Gwarimpa 1 District, Cadestral Zone, Abuja; Duplex Located at No.16 A Katuru Road, Kaduna; 52B, SMC Quarters, Unguwan Dosa, Lot 016 Comprising of 3-bedrooms semi detached bungalow, Kaduna; Property at Tola Street, Badarawa, Kaduna, comprising of 3-bedroom and an undeveloped land; Plot Y12, Kano Street, Kawo New Extension, Kaduna; a duplex at No. 21, 52 Crescent Kubwa Phase IV Estate, Abuja; House 8, 211 Road, A Close, FHA Estate, (3 bedrooms bungalow) Abuja and Farm at Dorawa, Karshi Development Area, Karu LGA, Nasarawa State.

Others are: Farm at Dorawa, Karshi Development Area, Karu LGA Nasarawa State. Karu LGA, Nasarawa state; Plot 3A, Sambo Road Unguwan Rimi (comprising uncompleted buildings), Kaduna; Property located at 16B/BG Gombe Road, Biu, Biu LGA, Borno State; Plot MF-27A, new Pasali Layout, Kuje, Kuje Area Council, Abuja; Plot 1B Ajayi Road, Unguwan Rimi, Kaduna; Block 23, Flat 2 located at Life Camp (2 bedrooms semi detached), Abuja; Property at No. 62, A/C Maternity Ward, Damaturu Road, Biu, Biu LGA, Borno State; Plot of CofO Bo/426 beacon B5086, B5087, B5105, B5104, B5099 Cadestral Zone B05 Utako, Abuja; Plot 37, Kinshasha Road, Maiduguri, Borno State; No 16 Dabai Road off Mangoro Road, Sokoto, Sokoto State; No. 13, Korau Road, Nasarawa District, Kano, Kano State and Plot 965 Cadastral Zone, CO2, Gwarimpa. Abuja.

Wilson Uwujaren
Head, Media & Publicity