The Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Milverton Ikoyi has arrested a suspected leader of a syndicate that specialized in forging Certificate of Ownership (C of O), for fraudulent sales of land to prospective buyers.
The suspect, according to the Unit, has so far defrauded his numerous victims of over N80 Million in the last one year.
The suspect, identified as Taiwo Moses reportedly presented the forged Certificates of Ownership to intending buyers for the sales of property, only for his victims to later discover that the documents were fake.
Taiwo, according to the Unitâ€™s boss, Mr Saba Moses, during investigation, revealed that the C of Os were usually given to him by a former staff of Alausa Land Registry.
Also discovered during preliminary investigation, according to Saba, was that Taiwo had once been arrested for a similar offence and arraigned alongside his cohorts.
His modus operandi, as gathered, included posing as agents to property owners and allegedly bearing fictitious names, to deceive his victims.Â Â But luck ran against him in April , 2010 after one of his victims who was at the verge of paying the balance of N60 Million for a property located at Lekki phase 11 , Lagos, discovered that the Certificate of Ownership was fake.
Taiwo and some of his cohorts, as gathered, allegedly lured their victim to Ibadan in Oyo state, informing that the owner of the property was sick and needed money. The victim (names withheld), reportedly gave the purported owner the sum of N2.2 Million and later paid the sum of N2.8 Million into an account belonging to Taiwo.
However, on discovering that the C of O was fake, the victim contacted men of the Special Fraud Unit, who subsequently arrested Taiwo. After his arrest, the victim was shocked to learn that Taiwoâ€™s real name is Olugbenga Abiodun..
During investigation, Saba revealed that Taiwo had been involved in the shoddy deal for long. Said he, â€œ prior to his arrest, Taiwo featured prominently in other cases in various sections of the Unit.
In one of the cases, he identified himself as Barrister Olatunji, where he and his conspirators, now at large, duped their victims of the sum of N20 Million, sometimes last year, for the sale of a property at Magodo . The money was collected in Ibadan.
When confronted with the allegations, the suspect reportedly confessed his exploits but denied being leader of the syndicate.Â He alleged thatÂ it was one Barrister Olaitan Olatunde and his principal , one Otunba Babyemi , also known as Amofin Agba that committed the offence, claiming that he was only given one hundred thousand naira..
He further revealed that they normally get photocopies of the Certificates of Ownership from one Idowu Salami, a former staff of Alausa Land Registryâ€.
Continuing, Saba said, â€œ In another case, the suspect and his co-conspirators , one Victor Bassey and Stella Ogbonna who had earlier confessed to the crime, were alleged to have forged a C of O of a property in Lekki, on International passport and NEPA bill of the owner of the property , impersonated him and defrauded their victim of the sum of N25 Million.â€
Not yet done with the suspectâ€™s unpalatable record, Saba revealed that Taiwo who paraded himself as Gbenga Olowoyo, before his recent arrest, went into hiding after a similar case.
â€œHe is the leader of the syndicate where six suspects including one female , were paraded here for obtaining the sum of N41 Million , two unregistered Mark Trucks and a Toyota Camry from a victimâ€
Saba therefore, advised members of the public to be wary of such individuals, informing that before going into the business of buying of landed property whether with the rightful owner or not, proper check should be conducted . â€œ They should endeavor to check the C of O at the Land Registry office for due diligenceâ€, he advised.