An inmate of the Kuje Maximum Prison, Abuja, Ifeanyi Ezenwa, has been accused of coordinating series of frauds, which netted members of his syndicate millions of naira.
According to the Inspector-General Police Special Intelligence Response Team, which burst the syndicate, the members of the gang specialised in defrauding their victims, especially businessmen through the use of fake bank alerts.
Ezenwa was described as a notorious fraudster, who had defrauded car and auto spare parts dealers in many states including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
A source at the IRT explained that the syndicate operated by approaching traders intending to buy goods from them.
The source said, “After negotiations, they would ask their victims to forward their account number in order to do a money transfer. They would inform their victim that the transfer had been made and the victim would receive an alert to the effect. But when a victim goes to the bank to confirm his balance, the money would not be in the account.
“They did this mostly late on Fridays knowing that banks do not work on weekends and the victim may not be able to make any confirmation in the banking halls.
“Usually, some victims would release the goods to them. The leader of the gang who is in prison, uses a smart phone that is connected to the internet and browses through online retail sites like OLX, JiJi and Jumia, where he connects with people who wants to sell their valuables especially cars, chatting with them via Whatsapp.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that when he buys a vehicle, usually very expensive ones, he ensures that he his dealing with rightful owner of the vehicle and he would send members of his syndicate to verify the real state of the vehicle. He then proceed to use the same fake banking alert method to swindle the victim.
The police said the syndicate had defrauded their various victims of expensive vehicles such as Mercedes G Wagon, Hummer, Toyota Highlander SUVs.
Their activities became bad to the point that some victims wrote petitions to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who directed the Abba Kyari-led IRT to track down the syndicate, adding that their investigation led them to a house in Abuja, where the G Wagon, Hummer, Honda Odyssey, and a Honda ‘End of Discussion’.
One of their victims, Mohammed Saleke, a car dealer in Abuja, explained that Ezenwa swindled him of a Mercedes G Wagon worth N7m, which was on sale in his stand. According to him, Ezenwasent a man to his car stand, who negotiated price and took a photograph of the vehicle which was sent to the inmate.
Saleke said, “My boy, Obinna, was the one dealing with them and when they agreed to our price. They took my account number and went to the bank to withdraw the money. The insisted on transferring the money to my Diamond Bank account. When I gave it to them, I received an alert after one hour and I called them to come and collect their vehicle. That was on a Friday, but by Monday when I went to the bank to check my account, I discovered there was no money paid in it.
“When I received the alert, it had my previous balance in it and the total money was balanced. I wondered how he was able to get access into my account. This incident happened in November 2016 and I have been looking for the vehicle.”
The police said the suspects would be charged to court soon while Ezenwa would also be charged with his fresh crimes.