The Nigeria Police have arrested two suspected fraudsters who impersonated officials of the Nigeria Customs Service auctioneers on Facebook and other social media sites.
Operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT ) who arrested the suspects have warned members of the public to be wary of fraudsters who pretend to be officials from the Customs auction Department or agent as they use it to swindle unsuspecting victims.
Already two persons have been arrested for defrauding a businessman of N4.3million in a phony car auctioning deal.
It was gathered that the suspects, Saturday and Amos, were arrested by the operatives in their home town in Ewan in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State. They were picked following a complaint by a victim, Adeniyi Adegboyega, a Lagos based businessman to the Inspector General of Police that the suspects who he met on Facebook made him believe that they were genuine custom officials on auction exercise but ended up defrauding him of his hard-earned money.
The victim in his statements to the police stated that: “ I met a Facebook user with the name Funke, begging of the year. We started chatting on WhatsApp and messenger. On May 23, Funke me an advertisement on the Nigeria customs service auction sales for 2019 and introduced me to one Mutari and Abbas who claimed that they were customs officers and they offered to process some vehicle documents that they would send to me to enable me to buy cars. They asked me to pay N650,000 for a Lexus RX 330 Sports Utility Vehicle, but I didn’t make any payment, then another set of individuals, who identified themselves as Effiong, Khadijat and Garba approached me and offered me to buy a Mercedes Benz E350, 2010 Model sets and another two sets of, Toyota Hiace buses 650,000, each, they sent me accounts numbers belonging Mbu Ebhat, Obhasi David, Jacob Dennis Okiemute, Kokten Monday Kinben, in UBA, First and GT banks and I paid a total of N4.3million into those accounts but after making the payments all those who claimed to be customs officers refused to pick my calls anymore, so I reported the matter to IRT operatives who trailed the suspects to their home town in Edo State and arrested them”.
It was further gathered that after Adegboyega made his complaints to the IGP, operatives of the IRT were deployed to track down the suspects. The operatives were said to have trailed a phone number used in defrauding the victim to Ewan community in Edo State, but during the investigation, the operatives discovered that the community is a haven for internet fraudsters. The suspects took advantage of the only narrow road leading to the community to ambush security operatives from arresting fraudsters in the community.
A police source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said : “ when we got to the local police station close to the community, we were warned to be very careful as all the young men in that community are into crime and they do not allow the police to come into the community to arrest anyone as they would ambush and kill the operatives .
We were able to sneak into the community and we arrested two of the suspects in their sleep and they confessed to the crime”.
One of the suspects, Amos, said: “I was arrested because I was impersonating the Nigeria Customs service as an officer in charge of auctioning. I started fraud this year, on February and it was Jimoh who is now on the run that introduced me to the business.. I would give cheap prices to all the goods that I advertised because Nigerians are gullible, they fall for our trick. We used to advertise cars, rice and groundnut oil and some other things. You know that many people are hungry, once they hear that a bag of rice is sold as low as N1,500, they would start booking for many bags. Some would want to buy and resell”.
A senior police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not supposed to speak to the press, said: ” We found out that all the people possible on the Facebook that they are auctioning things, especially vehicles and rice are neither Customs officials nor agents. The police, therefore, are warning Nigerians to disregard advertisements on Customs auctions on social media”