The Nigerian image has over the years, been tainted by internet fraud, otherwise known as ‘yahoo yahoo.’ Nigerians have become notorious for creating fake identities and obtaining money illegally from unsuspecting foreigners via the internet.
In a bid to curb this growing menace, local and international anti-graft agencies work together to continually uncover these schemes, fish the culprits out of hiding and apprehend them, but with the successes recorded in the fight against internet fraud, it seems to keep expanding as various techniques spring up daily.
With the awareness created globally, there has been a reported dip in the number of foreign victims. More people have become wary of falling in love with a ‘Nigerian Lady in distress’, or ‘Nigerian prince who needs money to access his trust fund and then split it.’ This has led to the employment of foreign partners to serve as ‘pickers’, erasing links to Nigeria for ease of the criminal activity.
Even with the alternatives available, the growing market and global awareness has seen the barrel turned and pointed back home as Nigerians now target Nigerians. Schemes designed to dupe gullible Nigerians are now formulated and effected, leaving many robbed, broke, and the culprits seemingly untraceable.
At the height of the clampdown on internet fraudsters, some defences offered were that Nigeria had been robbed by foreigners, and the fraudsters were retrieving the money to boost the economy, others said the government had robbed its citizens more and should be investigated instead, but with the now increasing rate of local victims, there appears to be a unanimous clamour for swift action.
– Binomo/Binary Investment –
One common method used to dupe social media users is the Binomo/Binary Investment scam. The fraud scheme invites people to invest a certain amount and then have it tripled in 45 minutes. At the expiry of this time, the investor is asked to make a further deposit to access their return on investment. Once this extra deposit is made, communication would seize as the investor would be blocked on the social media platform, losing all conversation evidence, and having no way to contact the fraudster.
It may appear like a textbook method of swindling which no one should fall prey to, but when one considers the amount of thinking and planning that goes into achieving this scam, then one would be forced to reconsider.
An24.net investigated some of these con artists on social media platform – Instagram with the aim of understanding their operations.
More often than not, the con is achieved with the aid of two Instagram accounts. One would be the hacked account of a random person, with posts showing fake testimonies of successful returns on investments, sometimes going as far as showing the official accounts of popular celebrities testifying. Gullible friends and followers of this account would then enquire about how to invest, believing they are discussing with someone they know.
This hacker then refers them to the second account, which would have an elderly woman’s image as the display image in most cases, and a reference to God in the profile’s bio. Some victims say seeing a woman’s image and the religious affiliation gives them a sense of assurance.
From here on, with the referral of a ‘friend’, the assurance of religion and woman’s image, it becomes smooth sailing for the fraudsters.
In daredevil fashion, one of such fraudsters impersonated First Bank Chairman, Ibukun Awosika in an attempt to defraud this reporter. The impersonator – as is custom with their operations – refused a meeting or video call in order not to give themself away.
After strategic probing, this reporter was able to get a name – Godstime Eghosa Ugiagbe, two phone numbers – 09035790022 and 08143433568, recorded phone call evidences, bank details – 3102676052 (First Bank), and screenshots of conversations on Instagram and Whatsapp.
During the course of this investigation, various victims who had lost close to a million naira were discovered. One such victim who chose to remain anonymous had been recently duped of N138,000 by one Mr Joel Binary Money on Instagram.
While attempting to have the culprits apprehended, this reporter took the matter to Area F police station in Ikeja, Lagos. Upon detailing the case at the station, an inspector of police, Abu Henry asked this reporter to pay the sum of N30,000 to track the culprits, and N20,000 to aid their arrest.
The matter was later filed as a petition to the Commissioner of Police through the OC Xsquad on December 7, 2020.
Investigation is ongoing, more details to follow soon.