Operatives of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) in Nigeria have arrested two suspects in connection with alleged COVID-19 fraud to the tune of €14.7m.
The suspects, Babatunde Adesanya aka Teddy and Akinpelu Hassan Abass, were alleged to have “cloned the corporate website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland, to transact with and defraud Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn, a representative of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, made the disclosure in a statement yesterday.
According to Mba, Adesanya (50) holds a Master’s degree in Cell Biology, while Abass (41), is the Managing Director (MD) Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Limited.
He said both men “are members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network”. The arrest of the suspects, the FPRO said, followed a request from the German government for investigations into the multi-million Euro fraud. Mba added that the request, which was made to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), was based on an existing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between Nigeria and Germany.
He said: “The Cybercrime Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, INTERPOL, National Central Bureau, Abuja, has arrested two suspects for their complicity in a major multi-million Euro scam touching on procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“The arrest of the suspects was sequel to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) received by the Bureau from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice conveying a request from the German government for investigations into a fraudulent transaction on the procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment linked to a Nigerian-based bank account.
“Discrete investigations by INTERPOL Nigeria revealed that the suspects and their Holland-based cohorts, Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder, specialised in identity theft, cyber-stalking cloning of corporate websites amongst other cyber mischiefs to defraud unsuspecting members of the public across the world.
“In this instance, the suspects fraudulently obtained from Mr. Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn the sum of 1.5 million Euro and another 880,000 Euro as advanced payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPE valued at 14.7 million Euros.
“Disturbed by the non-arrival of the PPE, Mr. Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn eventually visited the corporate office of ILBN Holdings BV in Holland to inquire reasons for the delay in supplying the items only to find out that the company never did business with him and that the transaction was a scam.
“The fraudsters merely cloned the company’s website and falsely presented themselves as representatives of the company before subsequently executing the fraudulent transaction.
Consequently, he reported the case of fraud to the police in Holland and this led to the arrest of Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder in Holland and investigations extended to Nigeria”.
Mba added that investigation by INTERPOL Nigeria further revealed that Babatunde Adesanya received 498,000 Euro from Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder through his Citibank London account and transferred same to an account number domiciled with a Lagos branch of a leading commercial bank in Nigeria belonging to Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Limited.
He said: “While commending the Commissioner of Police, INTERPOL, CP Garba Baba Umar, and operatives of INTERPOL Nigeria, Cybercrime Unit for a job well done, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), M. A. Adamu, assures members of the public and the international community of the commitment of the Force to tackling cybercrimes and other transnational crimes.
“He reiterates that there will be no hiding place for internet fraudsters in the country.” The PPRO promised that the suspects would be arraigned before a competent court of law soon.