The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has uncovered a sophisticated web of trickery involving a 34 year-old graduate of the Lagos State University, Anthony Ezechukwu who uses the names of spouses of prominent Nigerian political figures and others holding key offices to dupe unsuspecting members of the public.
Ezechukwu allegedly cloned the Facebook accounts of the wife of Lagos State governor, Abimbola Fashola; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; wife of the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Aisha Bala Muhammed and the Director of the Abuja Geographical Information Systems, Jamilah Tangaza. Then, he went on a solicitation binge that fetched him thousands of naira.
In each of the instances, he devised clever baits to lure his victims. Once he successfully opened a Facebook account with the false identity of a Mrs. Fashola, first lady of Lagos State, he began to send out messages. Soon, requests for friendship flooded his account. He exploited the frenzy by the unwary Facebook crowd that wanted to be friends with a first lady, by directing some of them to meet with ‘her personal assistant’, who in turn demanded for various sums of money from them in order to connect them with influential people in government and the society.
Also, in the Facebook account he opened using the name and photograph of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ezechukwu claimed he had job offers and directed interested job seekers to ‘her schedule officer’ (he also doubles as schedule officer) who in turn asked them to make payments into a designated bank account.
The exploits of Ezechukwu would have gone unnoticed until he overreached himself by cloning the Facebook account of Jamilah Tangaza. With his address as http://www.facebook.com/agis.jamilahtangaza.9, Ezechukwu set about exploiting the office of the influential AGIS boss to have his cut of the lucrative apple that is Abuja property sector. His bait came in the form of a message: “In my certified, endorsed and approved capacity, as the director general of Abuja Geographical Information system, AGIS, officially appointed by FCT minister (Senator Bala Mohammed) and his administration on presidency acceptance and approvals (sic) to take control of all lands and houses sales (sic) in FCT Abuja. Then I warned, using this medium to advised (sic) the general public those who wish to buy land and houses in FCT Abuja to channel all there inquiries, consultation and payment to me…”
The poorly constructed message notwithstanding some persons who are desperate to own land or houses in the FCT fell for it and began to wire money into his account. Indeed land speculation turned out a goldmine for the scammer. The Facebook account he opened in the name of the wife of the FCT minister, Aisha Muhammed turned out to be very rewarding. In a post on the account, he claimed that the FCT had soft loan worth N10million for disbursement to individuals but offered forms to interested persons at the rate of N100, 000.
Unknown to the public that it was a scam, a certain Usman Ahmed paid the sum of N100, 000 into a designed account with a new generation bank.
Ezechukwu was however nabbed following a complaint by Tangaza. He is currently assisting investigators probing the scam and will be arraigned in court as soon as investigation is concluded.
Meanwhile, the EFCC seizes this opportunity to again warn members of the public to be wary of relationships in the social media that come with solicitations of any kind, and circumspect in responding to gratuitous offers that look too good to be true.
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