The Lagos State Police Command has smashed a syndicate that specialised in swindling unsuspecting members of the public, on the pretence that it had goods to clear at the sea ports.
Arrested is a suspected member of the syndicate, Hyacinth Nwogu, who allegedly defrauded a businesswoman of N1.9 million.
Recovered from him were fake foreign currencies, some drums and chemicals.
The victim, Helen Olajide, told journalists yesterday at the Lagos State Police Public Relations office in Ikeja, that the suspect and his fleeing accomplices, who pretended to be familiar with her, offered her a ride in their car in Ikeja.
However, the 28-year-old businesswoman stated that she was taken to an apartment around Ikeja, where her Automated Teller Machine, ATM, card was forcefully taken from her.
According to her, “I was standing at the bus stop waiting for a cab, when their vehicle came close to me and they claimed that they knew me and that they were my customers.
“They told me they have a business for me and being a businesswoman, I decided to go with them. One of them spoke French and they claimed that they were importers and had a container loaded with computers, clothes, babies range and other items in the warehouse.
“I picked interest on some of the items and wrote them down. They made me sign an agreement to pay some money, which they said they needed to go to Customs quarters and clear the goods.
“At the house, they collected my ATM card and went to the bank and withdrew N150,000. Then I paid N900,000 cash, on August 26, into an account number belonging to one Chukwuma Eke Linda.
“In all, I paid N1.992 million. It was after paying that I asked myself: ‘What is happening?’
“I decided to invite my lawyer, who said I should invite them to come and sign an agreement him. Immediately I informed them about signing an agreement, they switched off their phones and started avoiding me. That was when I knew I have been duped.”
On his part, the 60-year-old suspect, Nwogu, admitted to having collected money from her, explaining that the money was shared among three other members of the syndicate.
He described himself as a con man, adding that he usually brought his targets to his apartment at 7, Abimbola Street, College Road, Ifako Ijaiye, when members of his family would be away.
Nwogu, who revealed that he had been into the shady business for four years, said the latest victim was his biggest catch.
He attributed his action on his resolve to avenge a similar act against him.
Nwogu, who never showed any remorse for his action, said: “She is the fourth person I have duped. I started the business four years ago after I was duped.
“I was a clearing agent and I lost over N1.2 million to con men. I decided to go into it as revenge. I have collected N20,000, N30,000 and N70,000 from different victims. This is the first time I collected over N100,000. We were four that shared the amount and we all got N333,000 each.
“What we call chemical is a mixture of coca-cola and vegetable oil. It is not chemical. The fake currencies belong to a friend who retired from the business. We refer to the fake currencies as treasures which we tell our victims to bring money to buy. In this case, we told her that she would get over N 5 million if she was able to raise N1.5 million for the treasure. We do not use charms. It is only gullible people that are deceived.
“My wife and five children live with me but they don’t know that’s what I do because I usually brought victims home when my wife leaves for her business place and the children , to school.