A victim of a three-man syndicate that specialises in swindling unsuspecting members of the public by pretending to have their goods seized by the Nigerian Customs has told the police how she was duped of N9,000.
Chiwenu Ibeh said she was going to Ojodu Berger from Ojota, in Lagos, when a taxi driver, in an ash-coloured Toyota Camry 1997 model with registration number SMK 886 DK, stopped at the bus stop to pick her.
“As he drove along, he picked another passenger on Kudirat Abiola Way,” said Mrs. Ibeh.
“We were still on Kudirat Abiola Way when the new passenger started a conversation in something like French language with the driver.”
Mrs. Ibeh said the driver then pleaded with her that he wants to take the new passenger to Custom’s Office on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, where his goods were seized.
“It was here that their story changed and I became the subject of their manipulation in connivance with a Customs agent and a pastor,” she said.
“Under the pretext that the four of us assist the man whose goods were trapped with the Customs over export duties, they brainwashed me into releasing my ATM card, led me to withdraw the last N9,000 from my account.
“After this, the pastor prayed for me and told me to go home and get more money my family kept at home.”
Mrs. Ibeh said the incident occurred last week.
“On Thursday, my husband and I were standing at the Maryland Bus Stop,” she continued.
“I saw the same Toyota Camry with same number plate and a new driver, but beside it was the former driver that lured me into fraud, pretending to be passenger.
“I alerted RRS officers stationed in Maryland and they arrested them.”
In a statement on Sunday, the police said they arrested the driver, Kenneth Umukoro, 36, and his accomplice, Uba Utokcha, 41.
The police said they also arrested two other suspects, Joseph Onuoha and Ikechukwu Okeke separately but in similar circumstances on Tuesday and Wednesday last week respectively.
Mr. Onuoha told interrogators that he belonged to a fraud syndicate led by one man simply identified as Toronto (who is now at large), who trained over 40 of them to go out daily in search of would-be victims, the police statement said.
“When we hit jackpot, we share it into five parts. Toronto takes two parts. Two of us in a team share two and we would share the remaining part to others,” the statement quoted Mr. Onuoha, 40, as saying.
“Presently, our office in Ajegunle has been busted by the police. Toronto as I was told has relocated to somewhere in Surulere. Whenever we have issues with the police, he comes around to secure our bail.”
Dolapo Badmus, the Police Public Relations Officer, said the police would not relent in their duties of making the state crime free and warned members of the public to be wary of suspicious dealings.
The police said the four suspects have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti.