The suspects were engaged in a fake scholarship scheme.
The Police Special Fraud Unit, SFU, Lagos, has arrested a syndicate – that includes a First Class graduate – which specialises in designing organisation’s websites and using same to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.
Olalekan Fajobi, 27, a First Class honours Mechanical Engineering graduate from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, was arrested alongside Oluwapelumi Falade, 25; Victor Asaolu, 25; Temitope Awote, 27; Emmanuel Bolatiri, 25; and Oluwatosin Adebomi.
Their arrest followed a petition dated August 22, 2013, received from OPEC Fund for International Development.
The petition alleged that a website designed as “OFID Scholarship Website” with OFID name and logo had been used to defraud innocent Nigerian applicants.
On the website, the petitioners stated, applicants were required to pay N2, 500 as an application fee and over 2,000 applicants paid the fees through the First Bank Account Number 2020874607 and Access Bank Account Number 0056941009 with the name OFID WSAS NG.
The petitioner stated that it was one of the victims that contacted OFID via Facebook, accusing OFID of being complicit in the fraud.
The SFU said, in a statement on Saturday, that its Cybercrime Section swung into action after receiving the petition and Mr. Falade, the alleged mastermind of the fraud, was arrested.
“His arrest led to the arrest of five other syndicate members,” the police said in the statement by Ngozi Isintume-Agu, Police Public Relations Officer, SFU.
“Police investigation so far revealed that over 2,000 applicants paid the sum of N2, 500 each into the two banks provided by the suspects and the principal suspect is the only signatory to both accounts,” Mrs. Isintume-Agu said.
Mr. Olalekan, who graduated at the top of his class in 2012 and is currently working with Dee Xecutor Concept, said that he had been a victim of internet fraud, according to the police.
“He stated that while in school, he lived in the same lodge with the 1st suspect (Mr. Falade) and his mates/friends always come to him for educational assistance because of his intelligence,” the police statement said.
“That he once fell victim for scholarship known as EDIADS, which made the 1st suspect to approach him and got some information regarding that one, which he believed gave him an idea on how to design OFID Scholarship Website.
“He further stated that he lent the 1st suspect the sum N12, 000.00 for hosting the Website. He later gave him N20, 000.00 in return and informed him that the fraud was successful,” it added.
Mr. Falade, the alleged mastermind of the fraud, is a 500 level student of Estate Management at FUTA confessed that he designed the website of OFID WSAS (OPEC Fund for International Development for World Student Aid Scholarship) in June, 2012, the police said.
Mr. Falade also said that he got the idea from Messrs Olalekan and Bolatiri, the police added.
“He also admitted that he opened an account in both First Bank and Access Bank with the name OFID WSAS NG for applicants to pay in their application fee which many responded to.
“He further stated that he and his cohorts printed a postal for OFIDWAS which was on the website,” it said.
The police said that Mr. Asaolu, an unemployed graduate of Mining Engineering from FUTA, confessed that he assisted in pasting the posters online and was paid N120,000 for his effort.
Another member of the syndicate, Mr. Awote, a 500 level Estate Management student of FUTA, confessed that he assisted the principal suspect to sign guarantor for the bank accounts for the OFID program and was paid N70,000, according to the police.
“He stated that he participated in pasting and publicizing the fake OFID Scholarship Program. He also stated that he knew from the onset that the OFID Scholarship Program is a scam aimed at defrauding innocent scholarship applicant but that he still went on to deceive the bank that his friend is honest and the program genuine,” said the police statement.
Mr. Bolatiri, a handset dealer, stated that he lent Mr. Falade N8, 000 and was later paid N12, 000, the police said.
“He corroborated Fajobi Olalekan’s statement that they applied for scholarship while in school which turned out to be fake and they shared their experiences with the 1st suspect which gave him an idea on how to design his own fake Website with OFID name/logo,” it said.
Mr. Adebomi, also a graduate of FUTA and currently working as a Programmer II with Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, offered professional advice to the 1st suspect and lent him N10,000 and was later given N100,000 as his own share, the statement said.
“He confessed that he knew from the onset that it was fraud aimed at defrauding innocent applicants, since there was no authority from OFID.”
Umar Idris, the Commissioner of Police, SFU, called on affected victims of the fraud to come to Police Special Fraud Unit, 13, Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, in furtherance of their investigation.