The Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police has arrested a final year student of Imo State University, Uche Akobundu; two employees of Skye Bank PLC, Nnamdi Dike, Olawale Ogunniran and a bureau de change operator, Sanni Ismaila, for alleged fraud.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Akobundu, who is the prime suspect, was in the habit of meeting American women on dating websites.
After cajoling the women to fall in love with him, he would promise to marry them and then start collecting money from them through Western Union Money Transfer.
According to the police, Akobundu went by various pseudonyms such as Devon Miles and Martin Williams, which he used to impersonate American men.
The suspect, who claimed to be studying Microbiology, said he posed as an American living in Nigeria.
He said, “I started this business three years ago at a cybercafé near my parents’ home at Fadeyi, Ikeja. I joined the business because it was in vogue at the time.
“What I do is to register on a dating website. I then create a profile for myself, posing as a 49-year-old American widower or divorcee living in Nigeria. I also upload the photograph of a handsome man and use an American name.
“After making them fall in love with me, I will ask them to send money for air ticket so that I can come visit them or I could tell them that my child is ill and I need money for treatment.”
When asked how much he had made since he became a fraudster, the suspect said he had made over N8m.
He said, “Last year, I travelled to South Africa and lodged in a prestigious hotel in Pretoria for a while and I enjoyed myself very well.
“I don’t have a car and I did not invest in anything. I was only using the money to take care of my needs.”
The indigene of Imo State said his parents were not aware of his criminal lifestyle. He begged the police to release him so that he could write his final year examinations.
While briefing journalists, the spokesperson for the command, Ngozi Isintume-Agu, said Akubundu had made over $48,000 (N7.6m) from the illegitimate business.
Isintume said Akubundu opened a bank account using a false identity. She said the arrested bank employees usually helped him to withdraw the foreign currency without following due process.
She said he defrauded one Antoinette of $10,000; Jettie Simpson of $5,000, Billie Klock of $13,000 and one Aurea Desena of $8,000 among others.
She said, “One Amelia Brosick, a US citizen, reported to the SFU through our website that one Devon Miles, suspected to be a Nigerian, defrauded her of the sum of $16,439 through different tactics.
“The victim said she met him on a dating site in June 2012 and the suspect, using various tricks, obtained money fraudulently from her through Western Union.
“Following investigation, the bank employees were arrested from their respective branches in Imo and Ikeja. They led the police to Akobundu and Ismaila.”
The bank employees however denied the allegations, saying they only helped the suspect withdraw the money as they helped any other bank customer.
Dike, who works as a contract employee at Imo branch said, “I never knew Akobundu before now; he just used to come to the bank to withdraw money through Western Union.
Ismaila, a 28-year-old bureau de change operator, said he had gone to Skye Bank in Lagos over eight times to collect money on behalf of Akobundu.
“Akobundu made a fake driving licence for me. I use to collect money for him and he would act as a guarantor at the bank,” he said..Odikwa very risky