A Nigerian national was among three persons arrested by the Chennai Police in Bangalore on Thursday in connection with an online lottery fraud, police sources said.

Based on a complaint lodged by Dinesh Kumar (21), a third year engineering student of a private university here, that he was relieved of Rs. 1.34 lakh by unidentified persons after he responded to an online lottery prize sent through SMS, a special team of the Central Crime Branch was formed to investigate.

The complainant said that he received a SMS that he had won 2 million US Dollars in ‘yahoo-msn lottery draw'. When he replied to an email address given in the message, a man claiming to be a diplomat in the United Kingdom responded. Saying that the prize money would be delivered in India, he asked Kumar to deposit Rs. 1.34 lakh in two different accounts of ICICI Bank. The money, the accused said, was for local taxes and customs clearance.

After Kumar deposited the money, it was drawn in an ATM centre in Bangalore. The accused called back from a mobile number and said Rs. 3 lakh more had to be deposited in the same accounts towards airport charges. Suspecting foul play, the student lodged a complaint with the Commissioner of Police J.K. Tripathy.

“This is yet another case where bank accounts and SIM cards activated with bogus documents became effective tools in the hands of culprits. Video footage at an ATM centre in Bangalore showed two persons drawing the money. Following specific clues, the team arrested Paul Osagic Cyril (41), the Nigerian national, and his associates Mohamed Afzal (29) of Mumbai and Rajesh Viswanath Kedia (49) of Kolkata. Rs. 94,000 was recovered from the possession of Cyril,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (CCB) M. Sudhakar said. The Nigerian national had come to India in 2009 with a business visa. The antecedents of the other two accused persons were under investigation. “Cyril conspired with Afzal and Kedia to commit the fraud. Enquiry is on to check if the accused persons had been involved in similar crimes in the past,” Dr. Sudhakar added.