By Biodun Busari
The International Criminal Police Organization popularly known as Interpol has arrested a suspected Nigerian cybercrime kingpin, James Aliyu over alleged $12 million scam in South Africa.
Aliyu was nabbed in his luxury Sandton estate on Wednesday, in connection with almost R196m in alleged romance scamming and business email compromise fraud.
Reports from Times Live revealed that the Nigerian national who appeared in the Randburg magistrate’s court shortly after his arrest, is popular in South African social circles.
He is also well-known on Instagram following to his lavish holidays and excessive spending on luxury items for him and his girlfriend.
His audacious social media posts where he flaunts his wealth have gained him 17,000 followers on his Instagram account Oldsoldier.
According to law enforcement sources, after an almost six-year-long investigation into the alleged scammer’s activities, he was arrested based on a multi-agency investigation that included Interpol, the US department of homeland security investigations and the US Secret Service.
Sources claimed Aliyu has allegedly been in contact with several major convicted and suspected fraudsters from around the world and that he is considered a major player.
Among the fleet of luxury vehicles he allegedly bought with the proceeds of fraud were a Porche Cayenne, a Mercedes C220d and a Mercedes-Benz G Class luxury SUV. His social media profiles also depict him on luxury island resorts and luxury holidays in Dubai and the US.
Aliyu is believed to be part of an international syndicate, some of whose members have already been convicted in the US.
He came into the spotlight in August last year when Sunday World reported that he accused South African actress, Khanyi Mbau’s boyfriend Terrence Kudzai Mushonga of defrauding him in an elaborate luxury R1.2m-vehicle scam.
The Sunday World quoted him as saying that he was “wanted by the FBI for scamming Americans millions of rand.”
According to the report, Aliyu believed a R720,000 Mercedes and a R500,000 Jaguar which he bought from Mushonga were stolen and hijacked by criminals he claimed had worked for Mushonga.
In March 2020, the SA Reserve Bank confiscated R231,000 contained in Aliyu’s Standard Bank account under Exchange Control Regulation 22E.
Aliyu is expected to appear in the Randburg magistrate’s court on Tuesday, where proceedings for his extradition for trial in the US are expected to start.