From James Ojo, Abuja.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday disclosed that no fewer than three serving ministers may have fallen victims of activities of fraudsters using the name of the Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
Although the affected ministers were not named in the statement, EFCC still warned the public to beware of the activities of a band of fraudsters who have been extorting heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), claiming they were acting at the behest of Magu.
“No fewer than three ministers have, in the last few weeks, drawn the attention of the Commission to the activities of this gang of criminals. This information points to a worrisome trend in which criminal groups now use the good name of the chairman of the EFCC to con unsuspecting members of the public,” the statement said.
The commission said it had issued few months ago, statement that some persons had been approaching suspects under investigation by the Commission, claiming they have the instruction of the acting chairman to seek gratification for them to be given soft landings.
Also, the commission said there have been instances in the past in which fraudsters cloned the e-mail and Facebook accounts of the EFCC Chairman and were sending messages demanding bribes from unsuspecting members of the public.
“These reports are, indeed, worrisome as they detract from the well-established mode of operation by the Commission. As a highly disciplined and professional organisation, demanding and receiving bribes are serious offences against discipline in the EFCC.
“Punishment for such acts includes dismissal and prosecution. Staff of the Commission are reasonably well paid, and have no need to seek rent from suspects. The mere fact that a supposed officer of the EFCC demands gratification should put the public on notice,” the statement added.
The commission, therefore, warned that “under no circumstance should members of the public offer gratification to any one that claims to be an officer of the EFCC. Indeed, such demand for gratification is enough indication that the so called ‘operative’ could be an impostor.”
The anti graft agency stated that regularly, it receives report about fake invitation letters to persons and organisations by fraudsters claiming that such persons are under investigation by the agency.
“Some victims of such scam have been directed to unimaginable places and defrauded by the criminals. Many victims, however, believed they actually dealt with bonafide officers of the Commission, while those who belatedly realise their folly are often too embarrassed to come forward.
“This calls for circumspection as the public need to verify such invitations and ensure they truly emanate from the Commission. EFCC, again, wishes to dissociate itself from the activities of these criminal gangs. Mr. Magu has not mandated any person to collect gratification under any guise on his behalf.”