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Police arrest fraudsters who duped business man of N14m

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Thrashing a document into a wastepaper basket ideally signifies the material has outlived its usefulness. And for officials and visitors to corporate organisations, the sight of such baskets is not unusual. Interestingly, the bins meant otherwise to Uche Ujokwu and members of his fraud syndicate – Ifeanyi Chukwu, Nnegbu Rowland and Lucky Paul. The waste baskets were the lifeblood of the gang’s criminal escapades.

The syndicate’s modus operandi was to pick thrashed documents from the bins at Federal ministries in Abuja and searched for contacts of companies and businessmen seeking contracts from the ministries.

They would then reach out to their unsuspecting victims and posed as intermediaries who could help them procure certain contracts from the ministries where the documents were found.

We learnt that the suspects had defrauded some contractors to millions of naira before luck ran out on them recently when they reportedly collected N14m from a contractor identified simply as Alhaji.

It was gathered that the syndicate contacted Alhaji on the phone after retrieving his proposal from a bin at the Ministry of Works.

The contractor had reportedly submitted the proposal for a road construction project and a member of the gang contacted him, claiming he was a personal assistant to a director in the ministry where Alhaji had submitted his proposal.

He was said to have told Alhaji that his proposal was being looked into and asked him to pay N14m to bribe top officials if he wanted the contract approved.

It dawned on Alhaji that he had been defrauded when he lost communication with the fraudsters after paying the sum

He consequently petitioned the office of the Inspector-General of Police and the IGP Intelligence Response Team led by DCP Abba Kyari was detailed to go after the syndicate.

A police source told our correspondent that that after weeks of tracking, the ringleader, Ujokwu, and three other members of the gang were arrested.

The source said, “The members usually ransacked through bins at the federal ministry secretariats at the Central Business Districts, Abuja, looking for documents or business proposals disposed of by businessmen and companies seeking contracts from the Federal Government.

“When they stumbled on any document, in some cases, they would write to the company or businessman with a letterhead from the federal ministry where the document was found and insert a phone number belonging to a member of the syndicate which the businessman or the company would contact.

In other cases, they will call the company or businessman with the phone number found on the document. Several businessmen and companies across the country fell prey to members of this syndicate and lost millions of naira to their tricks, but they ran into trouble after they defrauded Alhaji of N14m.”

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