Crime Guard

February 17, 2010

How grandma (60) was jailed over N17.5m scam

…EFCC hunt for accomplices

By Ifeanyi Okolie

These are not the best of times for a 62 -year- old woman, Grace Iroro.  This is because she has to spend about 365 days of her life inside the confines of prison custody as she was sentenced to a 12- month -jail term with hard labour by an Ikeja High Court, over an attempt to swindle the sum of N17.5 million from a banker.

Mrs. Grace, alleged to be  the ring leader of a Lagos based fraud-syndicate that has been terrorizing members of the public for long, has been on the watch list of security operatives, following incessant reports of their fraudulent activities.

But Mrs. Grace met her waterloo when she and other members of the syndicate conspired to dupe a banker during a purported land deal.

She was however found guilty by Justice Morenike Obadina of Ikeja High Court on a 3- count charges bordering on conspiracy, forgery and attempt to obtain by false pretences, preferred against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

It was however gathered that the syndicate has its operational base somewhere around Lagos Island and their target are mainly oil marketers and rich bankers, who could afford choice properties at the Island.

Sources at the Efcc disclosed that, scores of banks and oil magnates are victims of these fraudsters as they must have been swindled off their money raging into millions by the syndicate.

Spokesman of the Efcc, Femi Babafemi, who confirmed the story said, Mrs. Grace and two other members of the syndicate, namely Ayo Disu and Udoh Nnaji who are still at large, approached Mr. Bolorunduro, who was then a manager with the Zenith Bank and offered to sell to him a plot of land at Lekki Phase 2 for the sum of N17.5mllion.

To make the phony deal appear genuine, they presented a forged Certificate of Occupancy of the land bearing the name of the real owner of the property, Mr. Samuel Sosanya.

The victim was invited to the ‘office’ of the fraudsters in Lagos Island where Iroro posed as Mrs. Sosanya, the wife of the owner of the land while Ayo Disu assumed the identity of Mr. Sosanya, the owner of the land. Udoh Nnaji played the part of the agent to the land owner in this brazen scam.

To further convince the victim, they asked him to feel free to verify the authenticity of the Certificate of Occupancy with the relevant authorities.

The banker did and truly Sosanya was on the title document at the registry. Believing that it was a genuine transaction, he gave them a date to come to his office to collect the cheque.

But just before D-day, in excitement, he decided to inform his friend who is also a Manager with Guaranty Trust Bank. Unknown to the victim, his friend had been duped by the same syndicate over the same plot of land.

When the victim gave the description and location of the land, his friend told him his experience and warned against making the payment.

On the appointed date, the fraudsters went to the bank ostensibly to collect the cheque but, instead Iroro who is the leader of the gang was arrested and her accomplices took to their heels.

Femi Babafemi also added that, the convict has since last Thursday begun her jail term.  He reiterated the commission’s effort in apprehending other members of the syndicate.