By Joseph Ushigiale
Nothing amazes me more than trying to figure out the modus operandi of criminals and how their minds work. Imagine what these guys could achieve if they deployed these God-given talents to legal useful purposes. The worse part is their lack of conscience, greed and hurry to hit it big without lifting a finger. I have to write this account of a very recent experience with a fraudster who took advantage of the unemployment situation in the country to scam unsuspecting job seekers.
About a couple of weeks ago, our Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Prince Nduka Obaigbena directed that some lawyers be employed to beef up our legal unit. I was mandated to run an advertisement calling for applications from interested applicants. Our Managing Director, Mr. Eniola Bello advised I used my mobile number on the advertisement just in case applicants needed clarifications or additional information. I complied.
The very first day the advertisement ran, on a Monday, at about 8am or so, my mobile phone came alive. But before I could pick up the call, it rang out. Not knowing who it could be, I decided to call back the number. As I did, a voice at the other end introduced himself as Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza. He asked me what was in our paper? Not knowing specifically what his question was aiming at, I retorted that a daily newspapers has various sections so I am not sure what he meant.
He dropped the call and called back after a few minutes. He apologized and said his daughter, a lawyer who has just completed her National Youth Service Scheme was interested in the job we advertised for that morning. I told him pointedly that based on the information he just related to me about her she was not qualified. I pointed out that she lacked the prerequisite that the applicant must possess at least five years cognate experience. He admitted he was aware but pleaded that she should be given a chance to which I said I had no control.
He now veered off the topic and started discussing Arise Fashion Week which just ended mentioning prominent people and other related issues about them to which I calmly listened attentively and patiently held myself back from being rude to him because he was wasting my time. He now went to introduce himself as a Director with Kenya Airways.
He offered me an opportunity to send him a candidate that I trust, who is capable and has the requisite qualification so he could employ because Kenya Airways was also recruiting staff across board. I hesitated telling him I did not have a candidate for employment. This impostor pestered me as I drove all the way from Surulere to Apapa with intermittent calls urging me to be fast because the interview was closing that day even when I told him I had no candidate.
By the time I arrived the office, I lost count of the number of times he called me. Just to satisfy my curiosity and to see if I could help someone, I picked my phone and called someone who had trained in an aviation school and sent his number to this individual to call him as he directed. That was my greatest undoing. Acting on the belief that this guys is genuine coming from me, she called him and he invited her for an interview in Abuja. Eager to grab the job and without consulting me she decided to travel that morning to Abuja.
The worst part of the story was that she also sent the number to a couple of her other friends who also called this impostor. I was to learn later that he asked each of them to send money to a particular GTB account purportedly belonging to Mrs. Omotayo Sherifat Ahmed 0161331206 (Head of Ticketing & Reservation Arik Air) Lagos. Each of these applicants was given the impression according to their account that they were traveling in a group and should all assemble at the departure hall by Arik Air counter for tickets with the assurance that their tickets money would be refunded on arrival in Abuja.
Behold, on arrival at the airport, there was neither an Arik Air official bearing the name he touted as the ticketing and reservation officer nor any group waiting to travel to Abuja for interview. It now dawned on them that they have been scammed. This now provoked an enquiry on the Internet to seek out any information about this impostor and behold there was a forewarning posted by someone that had a similar experience and equally scammed by this impostor using the same modus operandi.
According to this person who posted his encounter on Facebook in March “The organization I work for organizes international events and in this instance, my contact was used on all communication materials for inquiries. So I got used to receiving calls from strangers and being nice to them over the phone.
“ This man calls and introduces himself as *Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza*( *08183364063* )the operations manager of Kenya Airways. He further claimed that his wife was interested to participate in the event, so he would like to know terms and conditions of participation .
“ I gladly gave him the needed information and he thanked me and the line went off. However, after some minutes i received an sms about job opportunity with Kenya airways from him and he called back to say he had sent me the SMS in error, I should please ignore.
“Then he said, “ On a second thought, if you could recommend some young people for a job, I would be happy to give them a chance to interview today and tomorrow”. Of course, I know a lot of young job seekers so I told him I would have some people contact him immediately and also send their names.
“I sent some names to him and he acknowledged and asked that they call him asap. I informed the young people. It was not long I was told he asked the young job seekers to pay money into a Gtbank account number *MRS JOYCE NWANUFORO GT BANK 0229527552.-HEAD OF TICKETING & RESERVATIONS AIRPEACE* for him to arrange flight tickets for them because the job interview,according to him is in Lagos.
“ He promised a refund. After they paid the money he stopped picking their calls. This is evil and wickedness! Please share this information with the police, with family members and Gtbank so they can block his account and get him arrested. Together we can track and get him arrested”.
I am not sure the year this was posted but between March and last month when this impostor struck, nothing had been done by the law enforcement agents, GTB, Arik Air nor Kenya Airways to save the unsuspecting public from the nefarious activities of this serial fraudster.
Without a doubt, while he is still free and on the prowl, he must have defrauded thousands of unsuspecting job seekers who are desperate for gainful employment especially in the aviation sector.
I am therefore adding my voice to this clarion call on law enforcement, Arik and Kenya Airways including GTB to order a full scale investigation to track down this impostor and bring him to justice to save other unsuspecting job seekers from defrauding them.
I also suggest that Arik and Kenya Airways should issue a public notice warning the public to watch out for this serial fraudster and dissociate themselves from his nefarious activities. This way, members of the public would be aware and alert and save themselves from future attempts by him to carry out his criminal actions.