One of the four suspected fraudsters arrested by the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command, Joseph Onuoha, says over 40 fraudsters belonging to a syndicate headed by one Toronto are out daily on Lagos streets, looking for victims.
Forty-year-old Onuoha told RRS operatives that Toronto, who is now at large, personally trained the members of the syndicate and also rewarded them based on their successes.
Onuoha and three others were arrested for allegedly swindling members of the public of various sums of money.
The four suspects – Onuoha, Kenneth Umukoro, 36; Uba Utokcha, 41; and Ikechukwu Okeke, 25 – were picked up separately by the police in connection with three cases of fraud in Maryland, Ojodu Berger and Ajegunle between Tuesday and Thursday last week.
The police said the suspect had individually owned up to the crimes before RRS officers during interrogation.
It was gathered that the syndicate was smashed after two members of the gang allegedly defrauded one Chiwenu Ibeh.
Ibeh told RRS men that she was going to Ojodu Berger from Ojota when Umukoro, driving an ash colour Toyota Camry 1997 model with number plate, SMK 886 DK, stopped at the bus stop to pick her.
“He picked another passenger on Kudirat Abiola Way. We were still on Kudirat Abiola Way when the new passenger started a conversation in French language with the driver.
“The driver pleaded that he wanted to take the new passenger to the custom’s office on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, where his goods were seized.
“At the office, the driver, a man that claimed to be a customs agent, a pastor and the goods owner brainwashed me into releasing my Automated Teller Machine card and led me to withdraw the last N9,000 from my account.
“After this, the pastor prayed for me and told me to go home and get more money.”
Ibeh said it was after she left the gang that she came to her senses, adding that a week later, she saw the men again in the Maryland area of the state.
“My husband and I were standing at the Maryland bus stop on Thursday when I saw the same Toyota Camry with same number plate and a new driver. However, sitting beside the driver was the former driver that lured me into the fraud, pretending to be a passenger. I alerted RRS officers stationed at Maryland, who arrested them.”
It was gathered that Onuoha and Okeke were arrested separately for similar fraud.
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, warned members of the public to be wary of spurious deals.
She said. “The police won’t relent in their duties of making the state crime free. The four suspects have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba.”