Nigerian police ‘rescue American trapped in romance fraud’ for over a year

The Nigeria police have arrested a suspected internet fraudster, Chukwuebuka Obiaku, who allegedly lured an American woman to Nigeria with marriage and extorted $48,000.

Police spokesperson, Frank Mba, said the woman was rescued in a Lagos hotel after being confined in a hotel for over a year.

“Police operatives have successfully rescued an American citizen who was confined in a Lagos hotel where she was held against her wish for over a year.”

The police did not name the hotel.

The victim, a retired civil servant from Washington DC, USA, arrived in Nigeria on February 13, 2019, to visit Mr Obiaku, a native of Ikeduru LGA of Imo State.

The duo met on Facebook.

“She was however rescued by Police operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Ogun State Annex following information received from a patriotic and civic-minded Nigerian in the Meran area of Lagos State.

“The rescue of the American lady is coming on the heels of a similar case of an abducted Philippino lady who was lured to Nigeria by her supposed lover whom she equally met on Facebook,” the statement read.

Police said investigations revealed that Mr Obiaku is a graduate of Business Administration and Management and an internet fraudster who has defrauded many unsuspecting members of the public locally and internationally.

“He subsequently held her captive in a hotel, extorted from her monies amounting to a total of 48,000-USD.

“More so, he forcefully 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.”

Other fraudsters in police net

In a similar development, operatives of the Nigeria Police Cybercrime Unit, INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), also arrested three suspects; Samson Inegbenesun 30, Blessed Junior 32 and Muhammed Zakari 36.

All the suspects, from Uromi in Edo State, were arrested for cyber-related offences, including advance fee fraud, money laundering and romance scam.

The suspects were arrested in Uromi, following investigations into suspected fraudulent online procurement and supply of COVID-19 protective masks, received through the INTERPOL NCB Wiesbaden, Germany.

Police said its investigations revealed that Samson Inegbenosun is an internet fraudster and a member of a Turkey-based online scamming syndicate.

“He supplies foreign and local bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds and use same as conduit to other feeder accounts.
Meanwhile, the police have recovered from him, a building apartment worth N20,000,000.00, 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 second suspect, Blessed Junior, returned to Nigeria from Italy in February, 2020 but maintains close contacts and illicit dealings with his Italian associates. Investigations reveal that he has made over One Hundred and Twenty Million Naira (N120,000,000.00) 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.”

According to the police, Mohammed Zakari, an expert in internet fraud, identity theft and impersonation, falsely claimed 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 reveals he has made millions of naira from his illicit cybercrime transactions since he joined the syndicate.”

The police said Mr Obiaku and the three other suspects will be charged to court on conclusion of investigation in line with the Cybercrime Prevention/Prohibition Act, 2015.

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