A 19-year-old secondary school leaver, Chigemezu Arikibe, has been tracked down by the police after using fake social media accounts to swindle a Cambodian woman to the tune of $75,000 (N27m at N360 to 1$). To woo his victim identified simply as Sophanmia, Arikibe reportedly paraded himself on Facebook and Instagram as an American pilot working for a British airline.
City Round gathered that after establishing a relationship with the woman, Arikibe offered to send her expensive gift items and $500,000, for investment in real estate business in Cambodia. The suspect reportedly told Sophanmia that he would send the parcel to her through a courier in Indonesia and asked her to send $800 for the service.
He was said to have contacted his friend in Indonesia to act as a courier agent and collect the money from his victim. After sending the money, Arikibe came up with excuses why the parcel could not be delivered and persuaded the woman to send more money accumulating into $75,000. It was learnt the woman alerted the Nigeria Embassy in Cambodia when she discovered that “the American pilot,” communicating with her was calling from Nigeria and not the United States.
The embassy was said to have alerted the Nigeria Police and operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team led by DCP Abba Kyari went after Arikibe. A police source told Punch that the suspect was trailed to the Mbaitoli area of Imo State where he is based. “The suspect was arrested with the SIM card and the phone he used in committing the crime and when we went through the phone, we saw chats between him and the woman.
“Upon interrogation, the suspect confessed to everything and he also said there was a man in Indonesia who helped him pulled out the money from a USA bank account. He claimed to be an American and that was why he gave the woman an American bank account. The worst was that the woman went and borrowed the money from the bank,” the source stated.
Arikibe, while confessing to the crime, said he learnt Internet fraud from his friend within one week and he started on his own. He said, “I attended Community School, in the Eziooha area of Mbaitoli and graduated in October 2018. It was Ugochukwu my friend who taught me how to do Internet fraud. I opened a fake Fakebook account with the name Frank William and on Instagram I was Patrick William.
“I uploaded the pictures of an American pilot on my fake Fakebook and Instagram pages. The pilot later discovered that I used his pictures and he started complaining. He even said he had been arrested three times by the police. “My Facebook account was later blocked, then I focused on Instagram, where I met the client (Sophanmia). I followed her and we started chatting. I told her I am a pilot and we started discussing about life.
“I told her I wanted to send expensive clothes, shoes, wrist watches and the sum of $500,000 to her. I told her that the $500,000 would be invested in real estate business.” The teenager explained that he sent pictures of the purported items and the money to the victim which convinced her to send money for the courier service.
He added, “I told her that I have sent the money through a courier company and she would have to pay customs tax. My friend in Indonesia acted like the courier company and they contacted her. “She was given the first bill of $800 and she paid. My Indonesian friend called the woman again and told her that the goods had been seized and they told her to pay $2,700.
“She paid the money and they asked her to pay another money which was $6,200. She paid several other monies to have the goods released. She ended up paying $75,000 and I got my share.”