One of Nigeria's Main anti-graft agancies, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has narrated how it arrested two internet fraudsters, popularly called 'Yahoo Boys', Tobiloba Ibrahim Bakare and Alimi Seun Sikiru, who were recently convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.
Apart from the three-year jail term, the judge also ordered the convicts to forfeit to the Nigerian government the total sum of N204, 041, 216. 82; Mercedes Benz E500; Toyota Hilux 2020 model; 5-bedroom duplex, situated at Ibrahim Beto Street, Osapa London, Lekki, Lagos; a 4-bedroom semi detached duplex situated at Ologolo Jakande, Lekki, Lagos and a 4-bedroom semi detached duplex in Southern View Estate, Mayor Court, Chevron Alternative Road, Lekki, Lagos.
EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren in a statement on Monday, said the duo were arrested by operatives of the agency for hacking emails of corporate organisations.
The statement read, “For many years, Tobilola Ibrahim Bakare and Alimi Seun Sikiru enjoyed the frills of the nouveau riche and the effervescent image of modern age role model of success among the young and upwardly mobile. What with their collection of wonders- on- wheels and exquisitely furnished mansions in exclusive neighborhoods of Lagos. Life was good and business was sweet as the greenback kept tumbling in, from one deal after another.
“Their proverbial master keys to ceaseless flow of wealth was access to the email of corporate organisations, a practice that is known as Business Email Compromise Scam in cybercrime. Bakare, the lord of the manor as far as the deadly partnership is concerned, had mastered the art of breaking into the emails of corporate organisations through hacking, and compromising their financials. By the time his melody changed to swansong, his cumulative heist was in the neighbourhood of $1 million.
“What went wrong? The guy men, as internet fraudsters are called in cybercrime circles, were not careless. They never expected a comeuppance, at least not in the short term. But a certain transfer from one of their corporate accounts became their Achilles heels. As it turned out, EFCC was literally in pursuit of a small fish when it landed a Shark.
“The agency was poring through transactions in the account of Kehinde Adelakun, a convicted internet fraudster, when it stumbled on a transfer of N5 million in two tranches. The money was wired from the account of Alvine International Resources Ventures, a company owned by Sikiru. The transaction did not sit well in the imagination of the investigators, and they decided to dig deeper. One thing led to another and, in the end, the investigation revealed a slew of suspicious transactions reeking of brazen laundering of proceeds of crime,
“It was the impetus for Tobiloba and Sikiru to be taken into custody. When they were confronted with the dossier already assembled by the EFCC, they were nonplussed. They could not offer any explanation for the source of the monies in their accounts or the funds with which they acquired palatial mansions in upscale Lekki axis of Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.
“As the reality of their circumstances dawned on them, they started to sing like canary. Bakare, the principal partner of the syndicate confessed to being a prolific BEC fraudster who hacks into the email of his corporate victims. He claimed he has earned over a million United States dollars from the crime and the proceeds laundered through investment in real estate and the rest used in servicing a luxury lifestyle and acquisition of expensive automobiles.
“Cars and other properties traced to them include two vehicles, a Mercedes Benz E500 and a Toyota Hilux 2020 and five bedroom duplex situated at Ibrahim Eleto Street, Osapa London, Lekki, Lagos, four bedroom semi-detached duplex situated at Ologolo , Jakande, Lekki, Lagos and another four bedroom semi-detached duplex in Southern View Estate, Mayor Court, Chevron Alternative Road, Lekki, Lagos.
“There is also N203, 796,068.83 cash in two bank accounts. Faced with the overwhelming evidence by the EFCC, the fraudsters caved in, and agreed to give up the assets linked to them. The two vehicles valued at N30 million and the three duplexes valued at N230 million were subsequently forfeited to the Federal Government. The forfeited assets also included the sums of N196, 741, 216.82 and N7, 054, 852.01 in bank accounts.
“Aside from stripping them of the known benefits of their criminal exploits, the EFCC also ensured that they were given custodial sentences following their arraignment at a Lagos State High Court on five counts of retention of stolen properties. Both bagged three years imprisonment but Bakare, 27, an indigene of Ijebu Ode, Ogun State got an option of N3 million fine while Sikiru was given the option of N1 million fine.
“It was a fitting denouement to a life of fraud, and a clear message that, no matter how hard fraudsters try, judgment day would ultimately come.”