By Andy Chukwu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has announced the arrest of three suspected internet fraudsters linked to the on- going collaborative investigations between the agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The suspects were reportedly arrested in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Owerri, Imo State and Ilorin, Kwara State.
Ogbonnah Atoukaritou was identified as a leader of a loose “syndicate of fraudsters allegedly” engaged in business email compromise, was arrested in Port Harcourt while Alpha Chidi Egbeonu, accused of defrauding a US- based victim, Goldberg Segalla LLP and other yet to be identified victims, was arrested in Owerri.
Joseph Oyediran, 36, was arrested in Ilorin, Kwara State “as part of an international crackdown on a syndicate of cyber criminals.”
Items recovered from the suspects include laptops, android phones, land documents, hard disks, Central Processing Unit, warehouse and a recently built house, now attached by the EFCC.
The commission said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.
Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC’s spokesperson, in statement said Isyaku Sharu, EFCC’s Zonal Head, who announced Oyediran’s arrest said his arrest was as a result of the assistance the commission is giving to the FBI in tracking and arresting wanted FBI suspects in Nigeria.
“Investigation conducted by the EFCC revealed that Joseph had benefited about N60 million from the loot via western union transfers,” he said.
The FBI last week charged 77 Nigerians under a 252-count federal grand jury indictment, accusing them of participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network.
The indictment was unsealed after law enforcement authorities arrested 14 defendants across the United States, with 11 of those arrests taking place in the Los Angeles region.
The remaining defendants are believed to be abroad, with most them located in Nigeria.
The indictment alleges that the defendants and others used various online fraud schemes – including business email compromise frauds, romance scams, and schemes targeting the elderly – to defraud victims out of millions of dollars.
Sharu in the last seven months, the EFCC in Ilorin has revved up efforts to rid the country of cyber crime resulting in the arrest of more than 50 persons involved in internet fraud.
“We have also secured the conviction of 25 of them, recovered exotic cars from them, which were proceeds of their illegal activities,” he said, adding that money recovered from them running into millions of naira were forfeited to the Federal Government.
He also revealed that some property linked to some of the cybercrime suspects, were traced to choice areas in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
“They include supermarket, plaza, and so on, and the conservative value of the property cannot be less than N800 million to N1 billion,” he said.