BY SONI DANIEL & IFEANYI OKOLIE
ABUJA — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested a Lagos State University graduate for cloning the Facebook accounts of prominent Nigerians and using same to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians.
Before his arrest, yesterday, Anthony Ezechukwu, 38, had successfully used the names of Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; wives of Lagos State Governor, Dame Abimbola Fashola, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Aisha Bala Mohammed and the Director of the Abuja Geographical Information Systems, AGIS, Jamilah Tangaza to transact his illegal business and smile to the bank.
According to EFCC, Ezechukwu went on to solicit for various forms of business and assistance that fetched him hundreds of thousands of Naira after cloning the accounts of the prominent Nigerians.
Findings showed that in each of the instances, Ezechukwu devised clever baits to lure his victims. Once he successfully opened a Facebook account with the false identity of a Mrs. Fashola, he began to send out messages soliciting for friendship, which yielded enormous responses from innocent respondents, who wanted to seize the moment to be friend to the Lagos First Lady.
But on noticing the stream of friends on the Facebook, the suspect started directing them to ‘her personal assistant’, who in turn demanded for various sums of money from them to connect them with influential people in government and the society.
Also, in the account he opened using the name and photograph of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ezechukwu claimed that he had job offers and directed interested job seekers to ‘her schedule officer’ (he also doubles as schedule officer) who in turn asked them to make payments into a designated bank account.
How he met his waterloo
But Ezechhukwu met his waterloo when he cloned the Facebook account of Jamilah Tangaza, the current AGIS Director, who is an ICT expert and had served as media director to the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed before her recent appointment.
With his address as www.facebook.com/agis.jamilahtangaza.9, Ezechukwu set about exploiting the office of the influential AGIS boss to have his cut of the lucrative apple that is Abuja property sector.
His bait came in the form of a message: “In my certified, endorsed and approved capacity, as the Director General of Abuja Geographical Information System, AGIS, officially appointed by FCT minister (Senator Bala Mohammed) and his administration on presidency acceptance and approvals (sic) to take control of all lands and houses sales (sic) in FCT Abuja.
“Then I warned, using this medium to advised (sic) the general public those who wish to buy land and houses in FCT Abuja to channel all the inquiries, consultation and payment to me…”
The poorly constructed message notwithstanding, some persons who are desperate to own land or houses in the FCT fell for it and began to wire money into his account.
The Facebook account he opened in the name of the wife of the FCT minister, Aisha Muhammed, turned out to be very rewarding.
In a post on the account, he claimed that the FCT had soft loan worth N10 million for disbursement to individuals but offered forms to interested persons at the rate of N100, 000.
Unknown to the public that it was a scam, a certain Usman Ahmed paid N100, 000 into a designed account with a new generation bank.
Ezechukwu was, however, nabbed following a complaint by Tangaza. He is currently assisting investigators probing the scam and will be arraigned in court as soon as investigation is concluded
In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, the Acting Head of Media for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, warned members of the public to be wary of relationships in the social media that come with solicitations of any kind, and to be circumspect in responding to gratuitous offers that look too good to be true.