The Police in Lagos says it has busted a syndicate group of fraudsters behind the fake “CBN Helping Hands Investment Scheme,” that has defrauded unsuspecting members of the public for several months.
The Police in Lagos said the syndicate group, comprising over ten fraud groups that specialize in impersonating the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was apprehended in a joint operation with their counterpart from the Edo State Command.
The Police said the head of the syndicate, Solomon Osiga Ezemede (operating under various guises as either Musa Mukarat or Solomon Musa) was arrested recently along with his criminal allies in Auchi, Edo State.
The arrest followed a formal report to the police by the CBN about the activities of the group, which had severally impersonated management and staff of the apex Bank and deceived unsuspecting members of the public to invest in a scheme purportedly sponsored by the CBN.
As an incentive, the fraud syndicate successfully deceived their prospective victims with a promise of their investments yield double amount within 24 hours.
The syndicate’s mode of operations, the police said, include fraudulent acts through fake CBN Facebook accounts, fictitious mobile numbers, fake online profiles and paid testimonials to induce unsuspecting members of the public into paying money into numerous bank accounts.
The Police said many digital assets seized from the syndicates during the operation are currently being subjected to forensic analysis by the cyber intelligence units of the Nigeria Police with the help of the CBN.
Meanwhile, the CBN said the principal suspect, Solomon Ezemede, was charged on December 30, 2020 before the Magistrate’s Court in Ebute Metta, Lagos, on a four—count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretense, fraudulent act and stealing.
The suspected fraud kingpin has since been remanded in prison, with his trial billed to commence on March 3, 2021.
The CBN spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi, confirming the report by the CBN to the police, saying the move was necessary because the syndicate had succeeded in defrauding many victims, using the logo, seal, general signage and brand of the CBN.
Mr Nwanisobi said the CBN’s complaints bordered largely on funds lost to fraudsters who claimed to be agents of the CBN seeking to assist them obtain loans from the Bank.
Restating that the CBN does not engage individuals to act as its agents for the purpose of coordinating its intervention programmes, Mr. Nwanisobi cautioned members of the public to be wary of fraudsters, who parade themselves as staff or agents of the Bank to swindle them.
He urged members of the public to report suspected cases of fraud to the nearest police station in order to checkmate the activities of fraudsters who may wish to capitalize on the dire economic situation in the country to swindle them.
Also, the CBN spokesperson warned those perpetrating fraud in the name of the Bank to desist from such nefarious acts as security agencies had been adequately briefed to checkmate such fraudulent activities.