By Joseph Undu
The difficulty in accessing foreign exchange for transactions has exposed some unsuspecting Nigerians to criminals who have been dispossessing them of their hard- earned money on the pretext of selling dollars to them. However, it was the end of the road for one of such suspected criminals recently in Lagos, after operatives of the X-Squad arrested him for allegedly defrauding two victim’s N42, 400,000 on the pretext of selling false dollars equivalent to them.
The suspect, Taiwo Olayinka Hassan, 34, a secondary school certificate holder from Ogun State, and father of three was arrested following a petition to the police, written by one of the victims (name withheld) and a former staff of Sky Bank, Suileman Idowu. The unsuspecting ex-banker, Idowu, was the one that introduced the suspect, Taiwo, said to be a regular customer with the bank to his victims who wanted to buy dollar from the black market.
According to sources, the suspect approached Idowu through one of his co-workers at Sky Bank (name withheld) claiming that he had an inflow and pleaded for assistance in sourcing for dollars in the United States of America into Bank of America (BOA) account. Police sources said after his request was granted, the suspect cloned a cheque which he used to defraud the two victims while pretending to have foreign inflow. He reportedly obtained the sum of N31,4m fraudulently from a victim with the hope of selling $100, 000.00 US dollars equivalent and N11, 000, 000.00 from another one identified as Dr. Abisoye Ariyo, with the hope of selling $35, 000.00 US dollars to him.
The complainant claimed: “I had an exchange of dollar to naira amount to $100,000.00 equivalent of N36, 000,000.00 paid into account number 586036023025 and an account name (withheld) which I subsequently paid the naira into the suspect’s account. The fund that was paid into the United States of America bank was fraudulent and same fund has been held by the fraud unit department of the Bank of Americas, BOA.” Crime guard learned that one of the victims wanted to purchase a property in the United States but because of the difficulty in buying dollar from the bank, opted to buy through the black market when she fell into the antics of the suspect.
The victim’s agent who spoke on the guise of anonymity said: “My clients wanted to buy a house abroad and because of the scarcity of dollars, she had to buy it from the black market. So, through an agent, a Bureau De Change operator with the name Dulwich Ventures, the suspect told us that he had an inflow abroad. He assured us that he would pay into my client’s account so that he could collect the Naira equivalent here stating that after an evidence of transfer, we would now release the naira equivalent to him to the tune of $100,000.00.
“On the 7th of October, 2016, he gave evidence that he had done the transfer to my clients account with the BOA. But we did not know that he cloned a cashier’s cheque from another customer and paid into my client’s account. Though the bank gave immediate value for a cashier’s cheque, a week later, they knew it was fraudulent and they called my client that the money that was paid into her account was drawn from a fraudulent account. Then my client called me and I in turn, called the agent that introduced the suspect and he called him. But the suspect ran away. From there, we wrote a petition to the police against him.
“After two weeks, he was apprehended by the police and he confessed to the crime promising to return all the money. The total money that was transferred to him was N31.4 million and through the same agent, the suspect was introduced to Dr. Abisoye Ariyo who wanted $35, 000.00.00 to which the suspect collected N11, 000, 000.00 from him.”
He used the money to build a brand new house in Lagos
He continued: “After his arrest, the suspect wrote an undertaking to refund the money by the end of January, 2017 but went ahead to use the money to build a brand new house at Number 14, Oyekunle Street, Orile, Agege area of Lagos. The police seized the documents of the house. And in that undertaking, he said if by the end of January, he was not able to pay the money, we should sell the house and recover our money. All his accounts were frozen and a total of N 4, 000, 000.00 was recovered. The outstanding balance for my client’s money is N27.4 million.
“At the end of January, the suspect alongside other people now went to Force Criminal Investigations Department, FCID, Alagbon, Lagos with the intention of transferring the case to them. Unfortunately for them, the Commissioner of Police Lagos state, thwarted their efforts and stopped the transfer
Idowu was the one that brought the clients-Taiwo
Giving his own account of the deal, the suspect who claimed to be a car dealer and property developer told Crime Guard that he knew the ex-banker, Suleiman Idowu through his colleague at Sky Bank. He alleged that he told the duo that his friend in the United Kingdom simply known as Akin had US dollars he wanted to sell. “He asked me to look for buyers for him which I also told Idowu. So, Idowu was the one that brought the clients. I told Idowu that the dollar is fraudulent but he told me he knew the way to go about it; that he would take care of it for me. So, he provided me with the account details to which I transferred $100,000, 00 to my contact in the UK who also transferred it to the account number in the US. He also gave me another account to which I transferred $35, 000.00.
“After three weeks, the ex-banker, Idowu, called me to say that the money I sent to his clients is having issues. After two weeks, I was arrested at GTB, Oregun Branch. I sold my car and my land in Agege to pay back. I have paid the $35, 000.00 and out of the $100,000, 00, I have also paid N4, 000,000.00 out of it.”
Idowu took 10 percent out of the money
The suspect also alleged that the ex-banker took 10 percent out of the money claiming that; “The dollar rate then was N450 but he sold to him for N350 after then, he took his 10 percent.”
Ex-banker denies allegations
Giving account of his involvement in the deal, the ex-banker, Idowu said: “When he approached me, I asked him to pay first which he did and we confirmed his payment. We went to confirm his house address which happened to be his parent’s house before we transferred the money to his account later in the evening. I was not the one that made the transaction, the Bureau De Change operators were the ones that made the payment.
“I did not do any transaction with them. The Bureau De Change operator is like my Uncle, I only linked them up. I did not know that the transaction was fraudulent. I worked in the bank for several years. I could not have been involved if I had known the transaction was a fraud, “he stated.