The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, says it has nabbed a 34-year-old man, Anthony Ezechukwu, for allegedly using names of some prominent Nigerian political figures and spouses of others to dupe unsuspecting members of the public.
The anti-graft agency said Ezechukwu, a graduate of the Lagos State University, allegedly cloned the Facebook accounts of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; wife of Lagos State Governor, Abimbola Fashola; wife of the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Aisha Bala Muhammed; and the Director of the Abuja Geographical Information Systems, Jamilah Tangaza.
According to the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement, the suspect used the accounts to solicit money. He added that the trickery fetched Ezechuckwu thousands of naira.
Uwujaren said, “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, 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 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ezechukwu claimed he had job offers and directed interested job seekers to ‘her schedule officer’, who in turn asked them to make payments into a designated bank account.”
The EFCC spokesman said Ezechukwu’s exploit was discovered after he cloned the facebook account of Tangaza.
He explained, “Ezechukwu set about exploiting the office of the influential AGIS boss to have his cut of the 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, 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 use this medium to advise the general public; those who wish to buy land and houses in FCT Abuja; to channel all their inquiries, consultation and payment to me…’”
Uwujaren said despite the poorly constructed message, some persons who were desperate to own land or houses in the FCT fell for it and began to send money into the bank account provided by the suspect on Facebook.
He said, “The Facebook account he opened in the name of the wife of the FCT minister, Aisha Muhammed, also turned out to be very rewarding. In a post on the account, he claimed that the FCT had soft loan worth N10m 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.”
It was learnt that Tangaza later got to know about the scam going on in his name and made a complaint to the EFCC.
The EFCC spokesperson said, “Following the complaint by Tangaza, the EFCC operatives were able to arrest Ezechukwu. He is currently assisting our officials with investigation into the matter. He will be arraigned in court as soon as the investigation is concluded.”