By Kingsley Nwezeh
The police at the weekend rescued an American who was held against her will by internet fraudsters for one year in a Lagos hotel.
This comes as operatives of the Nigeria Police Cybercrime Unit, and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), Abuja, have arrested three suspects, Samson Inegbenesun , 30; Blessed Junior, 32 and Muhammed Zakari, 36; all male from Uromi in Edo State for cyber-related offences, including advance fee fraud, money laundering and romance scam.
The American, who hails from Washington DC in the United States, is a retired civil servant.
She arrived in Nigeria on February 13, 2019, on a visit to one Chukwuebuka Obiaku, 34; a native of Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State whom she met on Facebook.
A Police Force Headquarters statement said she was rescued by police operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Ogun State Annex following information received from a patriotic Nigerian in Meiran area of Lagos State.
The rescue of the American lady is coming on the heels of a similar case of abducted Philippino lady who was lured to Nigeria by her supposed lover whom she equally met on Facebook.
“Investigations revealed that the suspect, Chukwuebuka Obiaku, is a graduate of Business Administration and Management and an internet fraudster who has defrauded many unsuspecting members of the public both locally and internationally.
The police stated: “Chukwuebuka deliberately lured the victim into the country under the pretext of love and deceitfully married her on May 15, 2019. He subsequently held her captive in a hotel, extorted from her monies amounting to a total of $48,000.
“He also forcefully(sic) collected and took control of her credit and debit cards as well as the operation of her bank accounts, including the receipt of her monthly retirement benefits and allowances over the period of fifteen (15) months.
“Chukwuebuka also used the victim as a front to defraud her associates and other foreign personalities and companies.”
Meanwhile, the fraud suspects were arrested in Uromi, following investigations into suspected fraudulent online procurement and supply of COVID-19 protective mask received through the INTERPOL NCB Wiesbaden, Germany.
Investigations revealed that Samson Inegbenosun is an internet fraudster and a member of a Turkey-based online scamming syndicate.
He supplied foreign and local bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds and use same as a conduit to other feeder accounts.
The police recovered from him a building apartment worth N20,000,000, a Toyota RAV-4 2015 model worth N6,500,000.00 and a Toyota Matrix 2002 model valued at N2,000,000.00, which he procured with the proceeds of the crime.
The statement signed by Force PRO and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Frank Mba, said the second suspect, Blessed Junior, returned to Nigeria from Italy in February, 2020 but maintained close contacts and illicit dealings with his Italian associates.
Investigations revealed that he has made over N120,000,000 from internet fraud and other cybercrime dealings.
He also received the sum of 52,000 euros recently from his criminal associates in Italy as commission for his active involvement in an international cybercrime deal.
He also owns a filling station established with the proceeds of the crime.
Mohammed Zakari, an expert in internet fraud, identity theft and impersonation, falsely claims to be a British citizen. He also poses to be one Kelly Galk on online dating apps which he uses to carry out romance scams and to defraud unsuspecting members of the public, locally and internationally.
Investigation revealed that he made millions of naira from his illicit cybercrime transactions since he joined the syndicate.
Mba said all the suspects would be charged to court on conclusion of the investigation and prosecuted in line with the Cybercrime Prevention/Prohibition Act, 2015.