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Three suspects were arrested by the operatives of the Nigeria Police Cybercrime Unit and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), Abuja over advance fee fraud, money laundering and romance scam. The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Frank Mba disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
He said the suspects were arrested in Uromi, Edo State following investigations into suspected fraudulent online procurement and supply of COVID-19 protective mask, received through the INTERPOL NCB Wiesbaden, Germany.
The FPRO said investigations had revealed that one of the suspect, 30, was an internet fraudster and a member of a Turkey-based online scamming syndicate, adding that the suspect supplies foreign and local bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds and use same as conduit to other feeder accounts.
Mba said a building worth N20 million, a Toyota RAV-4 2015 model worth N6.5 million, and a Toyota Matrix 2002 model valued at N2 million procured with the proceeds of the crime were recovered from the suspect.
He said the second suspect, 32, returned to Nigeria from Italy in February, but maintained close contacts and illicit dealings with his Italian associates, pointing out that investigations had revealed that he had made over N120 million from internet fraud and other cybercrime dealings.
He said investigation had also shown that he received the sum of 52, 000 EUROs recently from his criminal associates in Italy as commission for his active involvement in an international cybercrime deal.
Mba said the suspect also own a filling station established with the proceeds of the crime.
The FPRO said the third suspect, 36, an expert in internet fraud, identity theft and impersonation, falsely claimed to be a British citizen.
Said Mba: “He also poses to be one Kelly Galk on online dating apps which he uses to carry out romance scams and to defraud unsuspecting members of the public, locally and internationally. Investigation has revealed that he has made millions of Naira from his illicit cybercrime transactions since he joined the syndicate”.
In a related development, Mba said that Police operatives had successfully rescued an American citizen, confined in a Lagos hotel where she was held against her wish for over a year, explaining that the victim who hailed from Washington DC, USA and a retired civil servant in the US, had arrived Nigeria on February 13, 2019.
The FPRO said the victim was on a visit to a 34-year-old man and a native of Ikeduru LGA of Imo State whom she met on Facebook.
He said the victim was rescued by Police operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Ogun Annex following information received from a patriotic and civic minded Nigerian.
Said the FPRO: “The rescue of the American lady is coming on the heels of a similar case of abducted Philippino lady who was lured to Nigeria by her supposed lover whom she equally met on Facebook.
“Investigations reveal that the suspect is a graduate of Business Administration and Management and an internet fraudster who has defrauded many unsuspecting members of the public both locally and internationally.
“The suspect, deliberately lured the victim into the country under the pretext of love and deceitfully married her on May 15, 2019. He subsequently held her captive in a hotel, extorted from her, monies amounting to a total of 48,000 US dollars”.
Mba said the suspect also forcefully collected and took control of her credit and debit cards as well as the operation of her bank accounts including the receipt of her monthly retirement benefits and allowances.
He said the suspect also used the victim as a front to defraud her associates and other foreign personalities and companies, revealing that the suspects would be charged to court upon conclusion of investigation for prosecution in line with the Cybercrime Prevention/Prohibition Act, 2015.