By Evelyn Usman
Operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, of the Lagos State Police Command have smashed a syndicate that specialized in advertising telephones on an online marketplace- Jiji.com, only to exchange it with a fake one , while delivering them to customers in Lagos.
Arrested were two suspected members of the syndicate : Chukwu – Emeka Ogbona (45) and Olabode Kehinde (34), both mobile phone technicians at the Computer Village, Ikeja.
The suspects and other fleeing members of the gang as gathered, lure unsuspecting customers to Olowu Street and Computer Village, Ikeja, where they fraudulently collected money from the buyers after showing them the real phones.
But they would substitute the phone with a fake one while handing it over to customers, after which they would flee the scene.
Some fleeing members of the syndicate were said to have fraudulently collected several millions of naira from unsuspecting customers who intended to buy vehicles advertised on the online marketplace.
The duo of Ogbona and Kehinde were arrested at Olowu area of Ikeja, three days after they successfully sold a fake phone to an unsuspecting buyer for N120,000 . They disclosed during interrogation that they also exchanged fake naira notes or paper money to their victims after collecting real naira notes from them.
Explaining the gang’s modus operandi, one of the suspects, Ogbona, said “ leader of the gang is Ibrahim. He would advertise on jiji.com and supply us with real Iphone X and the fake Iphone X. The real Iphone X is N240,000 while the fake is an android phone made to look like an Iphone X. It is N30,000.
“ The Iphone X was advertised for N155,000. The buyer negotiated for N120,000. Knowing what I wanted to sell to him, I encouraged him to meet me at Olowu, after changing the location twice to ensure that we were not being trailed by the police.
“I showed him the real Iphone X while the fake one was in my back pocket. I took the real one back from him while we he was negotiating . As that was going on, he did not know I had arranged with other members to come around and distract him, so as to create room for me to swap the real Iphone X with the fake one. I gave him the fake one and collected 120,000, which we shared.
“ I stopped doing it at a time but resumed because I needed money to feed my family. Times are hard. We are many doing it. We call it street hustling”.
His partner in crime, Kehinde, allegedly collected N100,000 and an Iphone 6S from one Obinna, whom he lured to Computer Village, after agreeing to swap them for an Iphone X but ended up fraudulently giving him a fake Iphone X.
The Lagos State Police Command boss, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, while commenting on the arrest, advised Lagosians to be wary of suspected fraudsters masquerading as phone dealers, urging them to ensure they obtained receipts with traceable addresses for every mobile phone bought and avoid buying fairly used phones from unknown sources.