By Ifeanyi OKOLIE
The inordinate ambition of a young man to reap where he did not sow backfired recently when operatives of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, pounced on him and he ended up in the prison yard. Olaniyi Victor Makinde, an internet fraudster was arrested for allegedly defrauding two Americans of over $70,000 in a purported marriage scam.
The suspect, a 2010 Economics graduate of the University of Ado Ekiti (UNAD) had allegedly obtained the said sum from the Americans, identified as Marilou Sibbaluca and John Massoni.
It was gathered that he met the victims at a dating site last year while he was still an undergraduate of UNAD. One of the victims Sibbaluca allegedly told him that she was in need of a partner, and Makinde didn’t waste time in positioning himself as the Mr. Right for the lady.
In one of the scam messages he sent to the victim, Makinde profiled himself as a black American from Queens in New York.
“We are two from my parents. I am 27 years old while my kid brother Tommy Victor is 12 years old, and a student of Tennessee High School in Hollywood. I am 5.9 m tall. My hair is dark, my eyes blue, my parents stay in New York and I just graduated from the University of California. My father owns an oil company and I am now in charge of the company and my mother is a professional Nurse in NY.”
To foreclose any doubt, he sent the victim a picture of a white couple he downloaded from the internet, claiming that the lady in the photograph was his late wife. He promised to marry the victim. Convinced that the victim had swallowed his bait, Makinde moved in for the kill. He introduced phony businesses to the victim, in the process, she lost over $30,000 to the fraudster.
Makinde presented himself as a woman to the second victim, Massoni with an offer to marry him. The victim not knowing that he was dealing with a scammer started sending money to his ‘fiancee’ and lost $40,000 in the process. During interrogation, Makinde confessed to the crime, but claimed that one Francis Howell who resides in Amsterdam, Holland was the mastermind of the 419 scheme.
He claimed that his share of proceeds from the crime was only N2.3million. From the money, he bought a 2006 model Honda Accord but his father, a top civil servant in Ondo State would not allow him to park the car in his compound until he explained how he got the money to buy the luxury car. Makinde was arrested while attempting to dispose of the car
When he was arraigned before Justice Olasehinde Kumuyi, the Chief Judge of Ondo State, at the Akure High Court, his lawyer argued for his bail which was opposed by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Festus Ojo. His lawyer claimed he was only served the process at the court premises moments before the commencement of trial and that he needed time to respond to the motion as the Commission intends to oppose the bail application taking into cognizance the difficulties encountered in apprehending the accused person.
At this juncture, the trial Judge ordered that the accused be remanded in Akure Medium Prisons and fixed December 10 for the hearing of the bail application.