Kukatpally resident cheated of Rs. 49 lakh with false emails about winning a lottery
The city police on Tuesday busted a massive scam involving three Nigerians, who allegedly conned gullible people of more than Rs. 49 lakh by sending emails and SMS with false notifications about winning a lottery or bank loans worth crores of rupees.
Of the three accused, Patrick Okwuokenye (31) and P. Festus Iteh (28) were caught by a special team led by Mahankali Detective Inspector A. Srinivas Rao in New Delhi while the prime accused Michael is absconding. The accused had arrived on a business visa and were staying in South Delhi, City Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma told reporters on Tuesday.
Nigerian scams, also called as ‘419 scams’, are executed by conning people. The number refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud.
Mr. Sharma said that 35-year-old Asha Kiran of Kukatpally received an email in January this year stating that she won a lottery of US$ 20 million and the amount was deposited into an account which can be operated with an ATM Visa card for withdrawal of funds pending finalisation of some ‘obligations’ as per the bank norms.
The gang gave phone numbers and an email address to her for further correspondence. Believing the gang’s claims, she approached Mahender Patel and two others through her friend for cash, telling them that she was due to receive US$ 20 million (Rs.125 crore) and promised to pay 2.5 per cent of it.
The trio made online transfers of Rs. 49 lakh to Asha Kiran in various instalments. She then transferred Rs.15.5 lakh in seven online transactions preceded by emails and messages. After drawing the amount from ATMs, the gang purchased garments from Palika Bazaar, Sarojini Market and Chandini Chowk in New Delhi and sent the consignment through ships to Nigeria.
Meanwhile, based on a complaint lodged by Patel, the police registered a case and questioned Asha Kiran, who revealed all that had transpired. The police analysed bank transactions, emails and call details and closed in on the Nigerians. Inquiries revealed that the gang had cheated professionals, students and Internet users in a similar fashion.
As per their modus operandi, one of the accused, Patrick, a computer expert would generate database of mobile numbers and email IDs from Google search and supply the same to the main accused. Festus would send bulk messages to the users of various mobile networks.
In the second stage, if anyone replies, phone contact is established and the respondent is enticed into depositing money as a processing fee in various accounts which is withdrawn and spent.