By Joseph Ushigiale
Last week, I wrote a piece alerting security agencies, GTB, Arik and Kenya Airways to the nefarious activities of a serial fraudster who goes by the name Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza. My intention was to use their good offices to bring this fraudster to book and stop him from further defrauding innocent job applicants.
After the story ran, the following day, June 23, I got an email with the following content: “Good afternoon. My name is Ahmed Sherifat Omotayo. My attention was drawn to the publication you made about the fraudster. I was a victim and I have evidence to back my claims. Though I’ve made a report at the police station, I just felt you need to hear my version of the story.”
I replied her urging her to come forward with her reaction and assuring her that it would be published. On Tuesday afternoon, her reaction arrived and I have decided to publish her own side of the story. Please read on:
My attention was recently drawn to your publication online at https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2019/06/15/scam-alert-gtb-police-arik-kenya-airways-beware , relating to some fraud issue perpetrated by Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza (08183364063) using my GTB account as one of his fraudulent account. Am a very good citizen of Nigeria and my account has never been used for any illicit transaction until I was duped by Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza on 23rd of May 2019. But anyways how would you have known otherwise?
My name is Ahmed Sherifat Omotayo. On Wednesday, the 23rd of May 2019 at precisely 10:48am, I received a call from a friend who works at a recruiting firm about a job offer and that she was going to send me a number to call. It’s a new client’s number that was supposed to send the data of his kid scheduled to study abroad but mistakenly sent a message to her colleague (Tolu) asking him to inform five people of some jobs at Kenya Airways.
Meanwhile, her colleague called to tell the man of his error and also asked if he could send out his details concerning the employment to few of his friends. So that was how I got the man’s details whose name was Alhaji Ibrahim Hamza and I told him I was from Tolu (my friend’s colleague).
He asked of my name, age, marital status, state and other necessary data. He later told me to send my CV to Kenya Airways and asked if I could get to the airport before 12 noon. I told him I could but would have to go home and change to a corporate wear. He told me he was not concerned that I should just get to the airport with any identity card and a copy of my CV.
I called him the moment I got home to ask some questions because most of the things he said earlier on the phone weren’t clear. That was when he told me we are to fly to Abuja for the job interview which was supposed to hold the next day, Thursday and we would fly back after the interview. Then training was supposed to hold on Friday in Lagos. The total cost of return tickets was N50,300. I was so happy to be considered for the job and set out for the airport. On my way, he called me and told me to look for fidelity bank. I stay around Ipaja axis, so the nearest fidelity bank to me is Egbeda.
I called him when I got to the bank and he sent me an account detail (Mrs Peace C. Azika, Fidelity Bank 6171857550, Head of Ticketing & Reservation, Air Peace, Lagos). I was confused because I thought they would be in charge of the tickets. So, I called my husband who told me to forget about the job interview if it was going to involve money and my friend said the same thing but I felt otherwise because I was the one listening to the man and I thought to myself, the game was worth the candle. I later called the man and told him I had just N12,000 on me. He was furious and told me I wasn’t serious that if it was not for the fact that he had booked my ticket he would have struck my name out of the qualified candidates he sent to the head office.
He called back, he said he liked my enthusiasm that he was going to help me out and told me to send the N12,000 to (Mrs Peace C. Azika Fidelity Bank 6171857550, Head of Ticketing & Reservation, Air Peace, Lagos) he said I should instruct them to post the money immediately. I called my husband and friend and they said it was fine if he was willing to assist. After almost 20 minutes, I called him and he told me that he was trying to reach the Mrs Peace, but it seems her shift ended few minutes ago and he didn’t trust any other person to be discreet because it’s against the company’s policy to help a candidate. He asked for my account details so he could forward the balance to me. I sent my account details to him and was patiently waiting for the alert. I called him when I didn’t get an alert and he told me he couldn’t transfer from his account because he ran a joint account with his wife and had sent his personal assistant to do the transaction at my bank. I thanked him and told him I was running out of time because it was almost noon.
He told me my flight had been rescheduled to 5pm that I should take my time. After waiting for almost an hour at fidelity bank, I called him and told him I had not gotten the alert, that was when he told me to be patient that the network was bad and the personal assistant he sent had not come back that I should go to access bank because I’ll be paying for another person who’s coming from Saki in Oyo state. I left Fidelity Bank as I was told. After waiting for almost 30 minutes. I called and he told me to be patient that network in Abuja was crazy. He asked me to get a deposit slip and I should fill in my name as the depositor’s name and my number as the depositor’s number and he sent me another account detail of one (Mrs. Blessing Andrew, Access Bank 0024602546 Ticketing and Reservation, Air Peace).
I waited till the closing hours and still no money in my account. I was disappointed and started to think about the ordeal I went through and that was when his call came through. He asked if I had my credentials with me and I said no, and he told me to go get them and to call him when I get home. I called him around 4:25 and he told me there was no way I would make the 5pm flight. He suggested I settled down to pack my bags get my credentials ready in preparedness to fly the next morning and reassured me I would be at the interview before 12 noon the next day.
Later that evening, he called and told me that his personal assistant will send the money to me and I should make sure I send it to Mrs Blessing’s account. Not long after he dropped the call, I got an alert of N50,300 from Adetoye Adeleye Gabriel. I called him and told him I got the alert and he told me to transfer the money to (Mrs. Blessing Andrew, Access Bank
0024602546 Ticketing and Reservation, Air Peace) since the bank had already closed I had to make the transfer via my mobile banking application and I also forwarded the sms alert to him has he instructed.
When my husband came back from work, I updated him. But out of curiosity, he asked for the man’s number and dialed it on his phone; through Truecaller app and Google, we found out he was a Fraud.
So the next day around 8.00 am, I was surprised he called because I thought he had his way already. He challenged me of calling him around 6:am, I played along because I didn’t call him and he told me he’s married and it was wrong of me to have called. I apologised and he hung up that was when the idea to record our conversation set in and I set automatic record to his calls.
I received all his calls while in my house as he ordered me from going to the bank to confirm the transaction I did the previous night to getting dressed and preparing for the airport to meeting the rest of the supposed crew. I acted along and the interesting part was when he told me I was to pay for another person. I got another alert of N29,985 from one Okon Rita. He called me almost immediately and sent me a name, Olusola Ajayi to write on the depositor’s slip as the depositor’s name and to put his number as the depositor’s number and to send to Mrs Blessing’s account. As soon as the N29,985 entered my account, I stopped picking his calls and didn’t do as he asked.
I went to report the whole issue at the police station where I was told to put down my statement. I also tendered all necessary evidence to back up my claims.
Now, this is Omotayo’s account of what transpired in her own encounter with the fraudster. As I had earlier noted in the first write up, the imposter created alibis where he used unsuspecting job applicants to receive money from his victims in a ponzi style scheme where no one could trace or pin any transactions directly to him.
One of the victims who first posted the encounter on Facebook reported that he paid his money into Omotayo’s account. Yet, on his instruction, Omotayo also innocently transferred same to yet another unsuspecting individual as the criminal chain elongated.
Another interesting observation is that the impostor shifted his operations from Arik Air to Air Peace where he lured his victims to pay for return tickets to Abuja for a non-existent interview. All airlines, security agencies, telecommunications firms should be on red-alert and closely monitor the mobile phone he has been using to defraud innocent job seekers. He should be tracked down, arrested and brought to book.