THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has secured convictions for 23 out of the 48 suspects arrested for various internet fraud between January and August.
The Head, Kaduna Zonal office of the EFCC Zonal, Mr Mailafia Yakubu, disclosed this at a news conference in Kaduna on Wednesday.
“The Kaduna Zonal office through intelligence reports launched several sting operations on various computer-related frauds which resulted in the arrest of 48 internet fraudsters in their hideouts.
“The zone secured conviction of 23 persons, while others are in various stages of investigation and prosecution,” he said.
Yakubu said the zonal office also recovered N198,727,241.5 and 48,000 US Dollars in cash and draft within the period under review.
According to him, the commission received 345 petitions, out of which 286 were considered for investigations, while 52 were forwarded to its legal and prosecution department and 56 cases are in court.
He said that the commission’s recent collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had also yielded results leading to the recovery of the sum of $314,000 and about N373, 000,000 from computer-related frauds, while the sum of N373 million had been traced to various commercial banks.
“It is my pleasure to brief you on our effort to rid the society of economic and financial crimes, most especially internet fraud, popularly known as (yahoo yahoo), cyber crimes and our collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI.
“Internet is the most widely used communication ever constructed; it is also used by millions of humans and machines every second of every day.
“There are good and bad things happening on the internet and among other things are on-going attempts to scam innocent people of their money or identity.
“Their modus of Operandi includes; clone of foreign numbers which they, in turn, use to create fictitious email accounts on various social media platforms: such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype, Google hang out and they also use the same fake email addresses to open an account on foreign online dating site.
“They also use that method to open foreign bank accounts with the help of their counterparts living abroad, while they also use fake documents to perpetrate illegal activities in the cyberspace.
“Few among this type of fraud include love/romance scam, contract/ company scam, Bitcoin business scam, employment scam, online dating, travel scam, impersonation scam among others,” Yakubu said.
The official explained that the fraudsters also create fake Facebook pages using display pictures and names belonging to most foreigners in order to deceive unsuspecting victims.
“Their victims are mostly females of white nationality intimating them that they are soldiers deployed from the USA to Afghanistan, Iran or any other foreign mission.
“Another mode of operation is to link up with their conspirators known as pickers residing around the globe to help them in receiving their loots through their dollar accounts domiciled all over the world for onward transfer to Nigeria.
“In most cases, they buy items and send them to Nigeria and sell them cheaper to divert attention in the inflow of money into the country where their Pickers usually got 30 per cent of the loots, while 70 per cent is shared among other members.
“Section 7:(1)(b) of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004 has the power to cause investigation to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income;
“Section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 empowers the EFCC to cause investigate and prosecute, a Person who is being the occupier or is concerned in the management of any premises, cause or knowingly permits the premises be used for any purpose which constitutes an offence under this Act commits an offence.
“And they are liable on conviction to imprisonment or a term, not more than 15 years and not less than five years without the option of a fine.
“The recent joint operations conducted by the commission had yielded tremendous success while some of the suspects arrested, prosecuted and convicted, one of the suspects linked to FBI wanted list was arrested in Kaduna,’’
Yakubu said the alarming growth of the internet and its widespread acceptance has led to an increase in security threat.
“The increase in this crime in our society has become alarming and should not be overlooked.
“The impact on this type of crime can be felt on the lives, economy and international reputation of a nation, some of the impacts include monetary losses, piracy, loss of vital information, damage the nation reputation, economic data been lost due to virus attack, among others.
“The commission recognises the critical role of the press as stakeholders in the fight against corruption in the country.
“The press in Nigeria will continue to play a vital role in holding government accountable as well as exposing corrupt people with corrupt tendency and also sensitising the general public on the ills of corruption,” he said.
The EFCC official appealed to stakeholders particularly the media, to continue the collaboration with the commission to succeed in the fight against corruption.
“Let me on behalf of the Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, express our appreciation to the gentlemen of the press.
“We also want to appeal and advice the youths to desist from crime while advising parents to closely monitor their children.
“The general public should be mindful of the way they handle their bank details not to fall victims of internet scammers; they should endeavour to report all bogus profit-making ventures to the EFCC or any anti-graft agency.
“The commission will not hesitate to prosecute anyone caught no matter how highly place,” Yakubu said.