11 top fraudsters in Nigeria and Fraud Prevention Solutions
11 top fraudsters in Nigeria and Fraud Prevention Solutions
Before I begin this article, I want to make it clear to you that fraud is a serious crime. A grave one and many countries have stringent laws in place to punish anybody caught operating Ponzi schemes or deceiving people for money.
While some countries’ laws are stricter than the others, it is morally and ethically wrong to engage in these kinds of practices because it affects the lives of other people negatively.
Now that I have performed my moral obligations by letting you know this, it is time to bring to you some of the top fraudsters in Nigeria. Some of them raked in millions just by running large scale Ponzi schemes and pulled the plugs on the deals when people started asking questions or when caught.
1. Emmanuel Nwude
Emmanuel Nwude is a Nigerian Advance fee con artist and former Director at the popular Union Bank in Nigeria. He is well known as one of the biggest fraudsters in Nigeria’s history but the third-largest in the world.
He defrauded a Brazil-based Nelson Sakaguchi to the tune of over 200 million dollars. $191 million of that money was paid in cash and the rest was in the form of outstanding interest
Emmanuel posed as the central bank governor and convinced Sakaguchi to invest in a new airport to be built in the nation’s capital, Abuja, in exchange for 10 million dollars commission. Till date, there hasn’t been any known fraud bigger than this particular scam in Nigeria.
He got arrested immediately the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established by then-president Olusegun Obasanjo and after a very controversial trial including a bomb scare in the courthouse and attempted bribery of the then head of EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu.
Nwude was finally convicted, sentenced to 25 years in prison and was released in 2006. He filed to reclaim some of his properties on the ground that he acquired some of them before the crime. So far, he has been able to reclaim over 50 million dollars worth of assets. He was, however, arrested again on 27 charges including murder, attempted murder, and terrorist attacks and currently awaiting trial in the Awka prison in Anambra State.
2. Ben Enwonu
Ben Enwonu who is also a popular contemporary artist was arrested by the FBI in the United States of America. He along with 14 others were arrested after a series of raids by the FBI. Ben Enwonu is suspected to be the ring leader of some fraudsters in the United States who pose as senior executives in companies that unsuspecting victims owe money.
These men pose as company executives and request old debts to be paid to certain accounts. After a series of complaints and a sum of over 1 million dollars reported to have been claimed by these fraudsters, the enforcement agency had to take action. This huge money made in less than six months neared what they had reported for the whole year of 2012.
Ben Enwonu has been reported to have scammed victims of over 10 million dollars which the United States government might never be able to recover. Special Agent Delacourt who was the head of the investigation called for something else to be done, according to him “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem”.
3. Chris Sadiq
Sadiq was notorious for romance scam. He will pose as a family man based abroad and search for women (usually women outside Nigeria), seduce them and convince them that he wanted to leave his wife for them.
Once they agreed, he would demand money giving the reason that he shared a joint account with his wife and needed to move away from her and the kids for a while. He’ll ask for money to rent a place to stay. Usually, these women will send anything between 3-5,000 dollars, which when converted to naira is almost two million.
He usually doesn’t stop there. He would continue to give other reasons why he needed more money until the women get tired, abandon him, or grow suspicious and start asking scrutinizing questions. In such cases, he’ll just delete that particular social media account or block the person depending on the threat.
He was arrested by the EFCC in his apartment on the 12th of June, 2019, where he was having a birthday party for his younger brother.
4. Daniel Okon
Nicknamed after the popular drug Baron Pablo Escobar, Daniel had been on the radars of the EFCC for over three months before he was finally arrested in 2018.
He was known for hacking popular celebrity accounts and demanding unusual sums to perform at shows and events.
He was also known to be part of a popular cult in Nigeria (The Buccaneers). After a series of complaints from popular celebrities, the EFCC decided to start an investigation and he was arrested after some period of thorough surveillance.
5. Yetunde Martins
Yetunde Martins a.k.a cash money before his arrest had built two hotels in Lagos and Ogun state respectively. He was thought to be a legitimate businessman who was based in Dubai not until his residence in Lagos State was raided by a joint task force of the EFCC and the Nigerian police.
After cutting a deal with the EFCC, Yetunde Martins revealed how he successfully scammed over two hundred people, including Nigerians of almost $10 million dollars.
According to him, he would use a con art known as phishing emails to lure victims and drain all their money. He revealed that he used his experience learning computer programming at the popular computer village to create websites that looked almost legitimate.
Yetunde would then send emails to random people telling them to sign up for a program of some sort. These unsuspecting victims would click the link and sign up using some very confidential information like their social security numbers or BVN. He would then be able to access this person’s account and siphon whatever the person had in their savings.
He had several accomplices including foreigners.
6. Tobore Ovi
Tobore Ovi’s case was quite controversial after he was shot twice in Benin, Edo State by officers of the civil defence corps. It was news that made it to the headlines of the local broadcast and newspapers. At first, the case was treated as the normal law enforcement excessive incidents until the EFCC made some really dazzling discoveries.
It turned out that Tobore was on their radar for almost five years. He was so good at dodging law enforcement that the EFCC could not even attach a picture to the name. Often called the Alias T.O, Tobore had fleets of cars in different parts of Nigeria. On the day he was shot, he was driving a Range Rover sports 2017 model.
It was revealed that T.O made most of that money from scamming people. He got the rest from vandalizing and selling government properties, especially transformers and electrical equipment. The scamming method used by this 23-year-old was posing as a bank official over calls and asking for confidential information to help process a promo the person won.
While many people fell for this scam, I wonder why they’ll agree to give confidential information to claim a promo they never even signed up for. If you receive a call like this, it’s best to contact your bank directly through their official handles or phone numbers.
7. Samuel Victory
Samuel was notorious kidnapper, armed robber and famed fraudster that almost defrauded the Nigerian Military. He was so good at impersonating people that he was nicknamed 9 lives by his fellow fraudsters.
He was a man that could have easily made it in the movie industry if he had chosen the right path. Before he was apprehended by the Nigerian Army and handed over to the EFCC, Samuel posed as a Russian diplomat to Nigeria attempting to sell some new war technologies.
The fraudulent business was going to get him about 10 million dollars. However, things got complicated when the Army became suspicious and called the Russian Embassy requesting for the name he gave them. As expected, there was no name like that in the directory and Samuel was arrested.
8. Ginikachi Okoye
It might surprise you to know that women aren’t left out in this list of fraudsters. Ginika, as she was fondly called by her unsuspecting victims, operated a Ponzi scheme thought to be a legitimate business in Lagos.
She operated a scheme that promised her victims huge annual returns in exchange for an investment or monthly deposit. However, by the end of the year, Ginika would vanish. She would move to another area or state and start the scheme again.
Unfortunately for her, she was caught in Calabar while trying to board a flight to Lagos by a victim who was also travelling to Lagos. She was handed over to the EFCC that same day. It is advisable not to trust any individual with your money, either for savings or investments.
If you want to save money, you can open a fixed deposit for a certain amount; the bank won’t allow you to withdraw this money until it reaches the date you set for maturity. Note that your deposits are insured by the Federal government, therefore, even if your bank should go ablaze, your money is still safe.
9. Chidera Okoli
50,000 dollars was what Chidera took from Mr Smith in a space of two years. Nowadays, it is pretty easy to get a foreign number. Chidera was arrested for another crime and was handed to the EFCC after he had answered for the initial crime.
He confessed that he acquired a foreign number from a friend who then gave him Mr Smith’s number. He pretended to be a single woman based in Connecticut, United States.
Mr Smith fell in love with the woman Chidera claimed to be and kept sending him money for his “upkeep”, usually 2,000 dollars or more. He had long gotten rid of that identity, and when he was caught, he confessed that he was planning a Ponzi scheme that resembled the popular MMM.
10. Derek Gozie
Derek until his death was known as Omelora in his community. He helped a lot of young boys through school in the area and contributed to money-raising campaigns. He was well known in the community and it was thought that he operated a legitimate business.
Derek operated what is said to be the largest online fraud ring in Nigeria. They specialized in scamming foreign businesses or blackmailing individuals online.
Before he was poisoned, the EFCC was hot on his tracks. He was poisoned by some of his friends who wanted to claim his properties worth over one million dollars.
11. Jeremiah Ademola
Jeremiah used to pick people’s pockets for their phones or ATM cards. He would then use an algorithm he developed himself to figure out the pin of the victim. Jeremiah was pretty good at it and was successful enough to buy a Lexus RX for his mom.
He was arrested in a bank after he came in to rectify a problem with his account, without knowing a victim and the police were waiting for him. Protect your mobile phones and ATM cards very well.
These days, the mobile number you used to open your bank account makes it easy to access quick banking with very little security requirements. My best friend’s mother had her account emptied after she lost her phone at a party.
How To Curb Internet Fraud In Nigeria
In 2019, over 70 suspected fraudsters were arrested by the FBI in the United States of America, and most of them were Nigerians. This did very little to help the already soiled image of Nigeria. Countries like Singapore and China have very serious laws to punish anybody caught defrauding people including death penalties.
However, Nigeria has struggled with controlling this issue since her democracy. Many experts believe that corruption is the birth father of fraud and they work hand in hand. As long as corruption has its root in Nigeria, it will continue to bear fraudsters as fruits amongst our youths.
However, the Government of Nigeria has put in place some laws to protect its citizens from fraud. An example is the Whistle Blowing Act of 2018 to curb corruption in the Nigerian political system and fraud in Nigeria. Some very serious fraudulent activities destroyed many institutions including The Nigeria Airways, Oceanic Bank, Fin Bank and intercontinental bank.
Here are some recommendations to curb internet fraud in Nigeria.
1. Cyber Monitoring
The FBI in the United States has a very active Cyberspace monitoring unit. They work overtime to protect American citizens from fraud. They shut down malicious websites and track down suspected fraudsters on the internet.
Although the Nigerian EFCC have one of such units, unfortunately, they aren’t doing enough because internet fraud is rising daily. Experts suggest a stronger unit in the enforcement agency to monitor the Cyberspace of the country.
2. Consulting Retired Fraudsters
This might be shocking but it is actually a very good tactic for many enforcement agencies. It’s just like detectives who have informants on the streets but this is even better. Retired fraudsters will give you tips on how to catch current fraudsters.
They will show you secrets to the creation of Ponzi schemes. Many Organizations especially law enforcement make use of this option on a regular basis.
3. Stricter Laws
Although democracy might not allow this in some countries, it is actually working for more communist states like China. You could actually do life in prison for corruption or fraud. There are cases of death penalties for fraud cases in many countries in Asia. Establishing stricter laws is an option that works very fast but could dampen the power of democracy.
How To Protect Yourself From Fraudsters
- Do not click on any suspicious link that comes into your email, no matter what it says.
- If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank, drop the call immediately. Confirm by calling one of the official bank numbers on your welcome emails.
- Anytime someone calls & claims to know you or acts all familiar but you don’t, end the call immediately. It’s not safe when the person cannot explicitly state who exactly he is.
- If you did not sign up for any contest, do not listen to anybody saying you won something.
- Always secure your mobile phones with passwords or patterns.
- If you are going to an ATM machine in a pretty lonely place, remember to go with someone you trust.
Fraud is a serious offence that affects the lives of a lot of people negatively. When Oceanic Bank fell, hundreds of people lost their jobs including my uncle.
He struggled for years before he could stand on his feet again. Please stay away from fraudulent activities.