How My Involvement In Internet Fraud Started —Suspect
Greed, distrust and anger. These were the factors that exposed a gang of fraudsters to the police in Ogun State when one of them held hostage by three others was rescued by the law enforcement agents, with another arrested, while two others took to their heels.
The rescue was carried out at Orile Imo village in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of the state on December 26.
The rescued suspect, Usman Tanimola, confessed to being an internet fraudster, but said that his colleagues disbelieved him when he told them that the proceeds of a recent scam which he had only received part of, had yet to be paid in full.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the command, SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said that the rescued suspect and another member, Agbe Simon, were arrested for abducting their colleague over sharing of proceeds and their involvement in fraud business.
He disclosed that information was received by the police at Owode Egba divisional headquarters that Usman had been abducted since Thursday, 22nd of December 22 and held hostage somewhere in Orile Imo.
This, the PPRO said, made the Divisional Police Officer, Owode Egba Division, CSP Popoola Olasunkanmi, to mobilise his men who stormed the area arrested the abductee and one other abductor while two others escaped.
He said, “preliminary investigation revealed that the victim and the suspects belong to an internet fraud syndicate, and that they recently swindled someone whose identity is not yet known of the sum of N26,437,950 million, but the victim only gave the sum of N2.2 million to three other colleagues, claiming that the money had not been paid completely by their client.
“This infuriated them, leading to his being lured to a herbalist’s home at Orile Imo and held hostage there since Thursday, 22nd of December 2022, with threat that they would kill him there if he refused to give them their complete share. However, while they were there, information got to the police who moved in.”
Opeyemi said that the abducted fraud syndicate member was rescued and one of them arrested while two others escaped.
He added that the state Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole, directed that the suspects be transferred to Anti-Kidnapping unit of the State Criminal Investigation Department for further investigation.
In an interview, Usman, aged 34, told the Nigerian Tribune of how he began internet fraud.
He said: “After graduating from a polytechnic with HND in Accounting and after national service, I couldn’t get a job. I was assisting my mum in her fish pond business, until I got into the business that got me into the current trouble.”
What kind of business, he was asked. He responded: “I started internet fraud on my own by going online to surf. I would google and read about dating romance scam and came across tips that I needed. This was in 2011, but I was not so constant with it because of my being in school and the environment I was. Network and power supply were so poor there. I wasn’t earning anything from it there. I was at a learning stage.
“I started by having conversation with a white woman (name withheld) but it was a legitimate one. We met on the internet on my app. She was a Canadian and should be 60 years old now. She knew me with my real name and age. She saw me as a child and promised to give me necessary support. She had a female child and in our discussions, she told me that she didn’t have a son and would take me as one.
“After a while, she showed interest in me, telling me she was having feelings for me. She said we should be dating and I agreed. That was how we started. I can’t recall how much she has spent on me because we have been together for 11 years now, going to 12. Though I was always busy with things around me, there was no time I sent a message to her that she would not respond. She was always supporting me once she saw that I had a good reason for asking.”
What led to my current predicament
“I tried to engage in illegitimate relationships but they were not working for me. What landed me in trouble was the one I did recently. What happened was that my friends and I had a business transaction. I already shared part of the expected proceeds that I got and sent it to them. We were still expecting the rest from the person that would send it.
“The scam was about a job I offered a white American lady (name withheld). She should be around 38, 39 years old and from Katy, Texas. I told her I am a co-founder of a crypto-currency firm. I gave my name as Hu Liang, also an American. I employed her as a Regional Representative to run errands.
“It was my friend, Simon, who was a middle man that got the business for me from his friends, Prince and Yellow. So we were all four that were involved. We did the first transaction from which he got 2,550 dollars. The second one was 35,970 dollars. The Regional Representative removed 1,500 dollars as her commission and remitted 4,000 dollars. It was not sent at once but divided into two and sent twice, while we were waiting for the balance.
“When converted to naira, I gave others N2.2 million as their share and kept the rest, which was about N800,000. However, they started feeling that the rest of the money was being delayed, so they came from Lagos to where I was in Sagamu. They called me at about 10pm to tell me that they were coming to meet me but I told them it was late, that we should meet in the morning. However, they still came at about 1am and called but I refused and switched off my phone
“At daybreak, after putting it on, I saw a message in which they told me to meet them at Orile Imo. When I told people around me, they advised me not to go alone. Four of them joined me. We left Sagamu for Orile Imo, and I called Simon that I was there. He came on a motorcycle with one other and we followed them into a bush where there is a shrine.
“When we got there, they first started shouting that I brought people but the situation was calmed. In the evening, the people who came with me wanted to leave but I was told that I would not be allowed to follow them. They said that I would be held hostage until they would get their money from me. We slept in Simon’s Toyota Corolla car at the shrine. I was there from Thursday till Monday, under serious monitoring. They did not want me to make just any call.
“One of those who initially followed me there came to check me the following day, while another one came two days after to ensure my safety. However, those who held me hostage threatened to set my friends’ car ablaze or vandalise it anytime they came visiting again. I had to tell my friends to stop coming. I spent Christmas at the shrine.
“On December 26, I was told that it was the birthday of the native doctor who owns the shrine, and that I should be there with others. The native doctor had been there with us since I was held hostage there.
“Meanwhile, I had been calling my uncle, informing him of what was going on. He told me to reach out to him anytime I found myself among people different from those holding me hostage. As we came out of the bush on the way to the native doctor’s house, I called my uncle and he said I would not be safe where I was and it would be better for the police to round all of us up as it would be safer. The guys started threatening and rough-handling me. Suddenly, the police came.
“Before they came, the guys tore my top dress (buba) and wanted to strip me naked and take the clothes away, saying that they were charmed. They said they would buy another one for me. I’ve not seen the torn top since then.
When the police came, Simon and I came out. The other two and native doctor fled. That was how Simon and I were taken to a police station.”