By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged why officials of the Financial Institutions and money exchangers across the country are jittery over the revelation by Paul Delacourt , an Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, over the alleged Collaboration between some Nigerian Banks and Scammers fleecing American business men. This is because the Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN, may come out with sanctions to deal with such Banks. The FBI Chieftain revelation has also armed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to intensify the manhunt for the Scammers who are embarrassing and painting the image of the black.
The FBI Assistant Director had revealed that some Nigerian Banks Collaborated with the Cyber Crime syndicate fleecing America and other business men in China, Ukraine, Germany, Caribbean, Indonesia, Japan, Colombia, Mexico, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago.
He had cited Valentine Iro and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe , who run an extensive moneyilanudering networl in Los Angeles as a link between the Banks and members of the Syndicate. This may have forced the FBI officials to intensify a manhunt for the criminal elements in the American society and to uncover the Nigerian Banks dealing with them because of the several Complaint were said to have been lodged with it by victims.
He noted that the agency had received 14,000 Complaints from victims who had piled pressure on them to intervene save the American economy from collapse as the fraudsters had targeted American Corporations,( big and small), Humanitaritarian Organisations, Churches, and Individuals .
They were said to have defrauded over 1000 people in their Los Angeles Operational base, to the tune of $73 million between January and July this year. The situation was so bad that Delacourt reported toChristopher Wry, the 46 year-old Director of FBI who was said to have moblised his field Officers across the US and other State Law Enforcement Agencies, to track the criminals in their hideouts.
Wry was also to have reached out to Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman, EFCC, and other Counterparts in other parts of the world to join in the manhunt for members of the syndicate. Magu may have been armed with the information that majority of the fraudsters are based in Nigeria. The FBI, boss may have shocked Magu, when he revealed that the Syndicate had fleeced American businessmen to the tune of $1.1 billion between January and July this year alone , which were not transferred into oversea Banks but into Nigerian Banks.
Narrating how the syndicate, Coordinated by Iro and other members of the syndicate operate in the US, the FBI, had stressed that ‘’once members of the Conspiracy convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe, who have connection with Nigerian Banks , Coordinated the receipt of the funds using their extensive network to launder the money.
Giving an insider information, the FBI Investigator disclosed that the duo ‘’collected Bank Accounts, fielded requests for Bank information, provided such information to their cCo-conspirators around the world and laundered the money obtained from victims. He stressed that all these process were undertaken in exchange for a cut of the money stolen from the victims of the various fraud schemes.
According to the FBI, if a Bank Account with a specific name was required to deceive a business victim into parting with any money, Iro and Igbbokwe , Coordinated with the money mules to make it work by opening Accounts that would receive funds obtained .
This is in addition to making the fake business name mirror , the name of the legitimate Company. More revealation by Delacourt shows that sometimes, members of the syndicate wired funds to other Bank Accounts under their control or withdrew it as Cash or negotiable instruments such as Cashier’s Cheques.
Note that the job of Iro and Igboke are to Coordinate the transfer of the victim’s funds from a fraudulent Bank Account they controlled : Account belonging to money exchangers. The money exchangers in turn were said to have used a Nigerian application form to transfer such funds in naira from thee Nigerian Banks they controlled to the Bank Accounts of Iro and Igbokwe in the country.
It was not surprising why the duo were able to transfer millions of dollar to their Nigerian Co-conspirators in the business without directly transferring funds oversea for Customers. This is evident in the alleged fraudulent transfer of about $6 million :obtained funds, to their Nigerian Bank Accounts. They were also said to have participated in the failed attempt to steal an additional $40 million.
It was learnt that the FBI, had unveiled the names of the Nigerian Banks used by Iro, the fraudster and other members of the syndicate to Bank their stolen funds from the North American country business men and other parts of the world.
This may have strengthened the resolve of the EFCC, to commence its investigations into the allegations to ascertain the level of involvement of Individuals and the Banks which Collaborated with Iro , Igbokwe and other members of the cyber Crime syndicate to transfer fraudulent funds to the country.
The FBI Investigators, were said to have made the EFCC, believe that majority of the fraudsters are based in the country and had been involved a series Coordinated internet scam running into millions of dollar fraudulently obtained from American victims.
Worried by the activities of the fraudsters, the FBI had launched Operation Wire Wire , and started its investigations on their activities in 2016. It was said to have been re-launched as Operation Rewire , facilitating the arrest of 80 Americans and Nigerians, including Iro and Igbokwe, the mastermind of the fraud syndicate in America.
To show that that the Nigerians fraudsters were deeply involved in the scam, the FBI report showed that 78 of those arrested were Nigerians. The age bracket of the Nigerian Scammers are between 30 and 30 years, a security said.
Until his arrest by FBI, Mark Chukwuocha, a member of the syndicate had organised a ‘’bay shower ‘’party in his hideout in Los Angeles, where virtually all the members were present including Iro and Igbowe, the master mind of the well organised fraud network, described as the biggest in American History.
The party was said to have provided an opportunity for the fraudsters to exhibit their illicit wealth as they sprayed dollars among themselves, that littered the floor. Indeed, it was their first and last get- together by the syndicate to enjoy their ill-gottten wealth.
Ever since information leaked out that the FBI had busted the syndicate defrauding mericans, with the arrest of 78 Nigerians, there had been jubilation in many quarters in America including Corporations that had been scammed.
The FBI Operatives were also said to have begun a sensitization Campaign of the people and Corporations to be more conscious in their business dealings with scammers parading as Legitimate Companies from Nigeria. The arrest of the 78 Nigerians may have armed the FBI Operatives and other US Security Agencies to put a close tab on Immigrants , particular, Nigerians .
There are indications that the American security Agency are working with nine other Financial Crime Investigation agencies across the world including EFCC, to track the remaining g 57 online thieves on the run. Recall that the FBI had earlier arrested 30 year-old, Obiwanne Okeke , given award by Forbes , as one of the young most enterprising Entrepreneurs over alleged scam of $11.5 million.
While the FBI Investigators have started a manhunt for the remaining 57 Nigerian Scammers allegedly on the run by working closely with their foreign counterparts, particular, EFCC, t to block the avenues used by the fraudsters to defraud victims such as BEC Scheme, Romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims,Magu, the anti-graft agency boss and his men were said to have the arrested 16 Scammers. This should gladden the heart of Wry the FBI Director.
The Commision may have also intensified manhunt for the Yahoo boys that escaped to Nigeria that many of them were said to have been forced to go underground b while those who could not bear heat were said to have relocated to Ghana, a neighbouring country in the West African sub-region to continue their trade. A no nonsense EFCC, acting Chairman, has vowed to smoke them out from their hide out in Nigeria or Ghana, to face the full weight of the Law. He was said to have used the opportunity of Abike Dabiri, a former member of House of Representatives and Chairman of Nigerians in Daspora visit to his office penultimate Friday to appeal to those indicted by the FBI in their Investigation to turn themselves in to American Authorities to clear their names , noting that failure to do so would force the government to extradite them if relevant international treaties between the two countries are evoked. This is bad news for the fraudsters who are already facing hard time.
Meanwhile, Presiddent Muhammed Buhari, who is not happy at the embarrassment caused the country by the Scammers in US, appears to have thrown his weight on EFCC to block loopholes that had been exploited by the international thieves in the past to scam foreigners.
Garuba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, had confirmed that he government will generate and seek for Executive Powers from the National Assembly to tackle Cyber Crime in the country. This sis bad news for the Yahoo boys who would soon reach their dead end.
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