We have been conducting investigations into the activities of a mobile fraud ring running in Nigeria. Evidence collected so far paints the picture of a well organised setup that defrauds unsuspecting consumers. Here is how it works:
On almost every free online marketplace serving the country e.g. TradeStable, GoogleTrader, OLX, etc, are individuals advertising brand new phones at ridiculously low prices. Its not about the online marketplaces, as those are legitimate operations. It is about individuals using them for criminal operations. So, these guys offer phones at mouth-watering prices. Sometimes, the prices are half the actual market costs. That is the sweet point, as Nigerians are always on the lookout for bargain prices. When you call the number attached to the ad, you are told about a nationwide delivery service, and that you will get to pay for your phone at the point of delivery. However, you need to pay the small delivery fee so the courier service can do their job of getting the phone to you.
Of course, this sounds very suspect, and your alarm bells should be sounding by now. But the catch is the low price of the device. You are getting a bargain and have not much to lose parting ways with N5,000 to get the phone delivered to you; right? Speaking with one of these “advertisers” on phone, he claimed to be a customs officers at Seme border and so have no office, hence the delivery service. He claimed that the phones are seized goods, which accounts for the very low selling prices. Suddenly, it sounds a tad more credible.
Our team here thought we would investigate some more. We called at least five others who were advertising such low-cost phones. Every single one of them repeated the same lines to us. They all claimed to be customs officers, usually at Seme (in one case Port Harcourt) border. They all required the delivery fee upfront. The guy at Port Harcourt wanted us to pay the full sum of the phone he was advertising. All of them!
This was clearly a scam operation. A well oiled one. But we needed some proof. We got in touch with one of these advertisers who claimed to be at the Seme station and asked for his bank account details, then paid the N5,000 delivery fee, then notified him and sent a delivery address. As expected, the story changed from that point. Till today, his claim is that he has not received the cash in his account. Here are his details:
Name: Imadojemu Paul Jnr
Telephone: 0808 846 5980
Bank Account: Access Bank: 005 101 5918
We got in touch a couple of times with Access Bank, Ojodu and were able to confirm that the deposit has been indeed credited to his account. The last time we spoke with him on phone to challenge him, these where his words, “It seems you are not ready yet to collect your phone”, and then he hung up.
We were right. This is a scam ring and probably has one or two influential people involved. For the records, and hopefully to get Access Bank to scrutinise that account, we lodged a complaint to them and the staff who attended to us mentioned that there had been a similar complaint the previous week. We were asked to file a written complaint too. Let’s hope that Access Bank can get this particular individual’s account shut down. But then what? There are several more, and even more will step up to the plate. At the end of the day, it is up to you to be informed enough not to fall into their trap.
Don’t be taken in by the low prices. If it looks too good to be true, it is almost not true. These guys are counting on the fact that most people will eventually just get tired of calling and that most people would get on with their lives after that. Spread the word. Mobile scammers are on the prowl! And they are after your money. Simple.