The Cybercrime Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, Interpol National Central Bureau, Abuja, has arrested two suspects for alleged complicity in €14.7 million COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment contract scam.
The suspects, Babatunde Adesanya a.k.a Teddy, 50, a Masters degree holder in Cell Biology and Akinpelu Abass, 41, the Managing Director, Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Ltd, were found to be members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network.
They reportedly cloned the corporate website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland, to defraud one Freiherr Hahn, a representative of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The arrest of the suspects was sequel to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty received by the NCB from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice conveying a request from the German Government for investigation into a fraudulent transaction on the procurement of COVID-19 PPEs linked to a Nigerian-based bank account.
Discrete investigations by Interpol Nigeria revealed that the suspects and their Holland-based cohorts, one Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder specialized in identity theft, cyber-stalking, cloning of corporate websites, amongst other cyber mischiefs, to defraud unsuspecting members of the public across the world.
According to a statement in Abuja on Sunday, by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, the suspects fraudulently obtained from Hahn the sum of €1.5m and another €880,000 as advanced payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs valued at €14.7m.
Disturbed by the non-arrival of the PPEs, Hahn eventually visited the corporate office of ILBN Holdings BV in Holland to know the reason for the delay in supplying the items only to find out that the company never did business with him and that the transaction was a scam.
The statement titled, ‘COVID-19-relayed scam: Two arrested for defrauding German company of €14.7m,’ disclosed that the fraudsters cloned the company’s website and falsely presented themselves as representatives of the firm before executing the fraudulent transaction.
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Hahn consequently reported the case of fraud to the police in Holland and this led to the arrest of Boomstra and Maulder while the investigation was extended to Nigeria.
An investigation by Interpol Nigeria further revealed that Adesanya received €498,000 from Boomstra and Maulder through his Citibank London account and transferred same to an account number domiciled with a Lagos branch of a leading commercial bank in Nigeria belonging to Musterpoint Investment Nig. Ltd.
The statement read, “While commending the Commissioner of Police, Interpol, Garba Umar and operatives of Interpol Nigeria, Cybercrime Unit, for a job well done, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, assures members of the public and the international community of the commitment of the Force to tackling cybercrimes and other transnational crimes. He reiterates that there will be no hiding place for internet fraudsters in the country.”
The police stated that the suspects would be arraigned soon