A member of an internet gang who has perfected the art of extorting money from the high and mighty in the society has been arrested by the crack team of the Special Fraud Intelligence Unit of the Nigerian Police in Lagos.
According to investigations conducted by our reporters, the members of the gang parade themselves as journalists and perpetrate their acts through a website with address as www.naijalive.com.
Police source at the SFIU gave the name of the suspected blackmailer who is currently helping the police to nab other members of the criminal syndicate as Babatunde Oyebode.
Oyebode who is in his late 30s, we learnt is a school drop-out, but is a genius in building websites and hacking into seemingly secured websites.
Our source revealed that Oyebode and his collaborators who are still at large publish wild stories, mostly untrue on top and rich Nigerians, get in touch with them and demand for huge amount of money before the stories are pulled down from the news website, after which the proceeds of the blackmail are shared.
It was learnt that a female blogger who is based in Europe is the head of the syndicate and coordinates all the activities, while Oyebode serves as the administrator of the website.
“The female blogger is a journalist. She worked with a reputable magazine before she travelled out of the country. She is the one that do most of the write-ups. It will interest you to know that Oyebode’s fiancée named Maureen James, she is in Germany and his sister, Bolanle Olukoya are involved in this scam. The Nigerian police is working hard to arrest the other members, either here or abroad. I can confirm to you that Interpol has been put on notice, because there are intelligence reports that link members of this gang to money laundering, kidnapping and terrorism’’, the police source declared.
The source who gave a hint of the modus operandi of the syndicate explained after a story is published, they get a lot of their friends to drop comments on the story, abusing the victims and using foul languages. The unsuspecting victim’s attention is then drawn to the story, either through sms or unidentified calls. The victim is later made to part with money, mostly in foreign currencies before the story is removed from the news website.
The mode of payment is majorly through PayPal which does not need any verifiable identity other than an email address to be able to access the funds.
“They are real crooks, and have extorted a lot of money from top people in the country”. The source added.
We were told that the victims of this syndicate include Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, MD of a new generation bank who paid 7000 pounds, owner of OANDO, Mr Wale Tinbu, Mr Musa Danjuma, Mr Seyi Tinubu, Nana Otedola, wife of billionaire Femi Otedola and a host of others.
The source disclosed that the long arm of the law began to close in Oyebode and his gang members after a defamatory story was publish about Lagos business man, Jojo Dapo Balogun. Jojo reportedly made some contacts and billionaire Femi Otedola got interested in it. Enraged that his wife, Nana had been earlier blackmailed into paying some thousands of dollars by the gang, Otedola contacted about 15
top Nigerians that had earlier been made to pay money to remove their stories from the website, and a strong worded petition was written and signed by all the victims and submitted to the Commissioner of Police in charge of SFIU in Lagos.
A plan was then hatched and Jojo was asked to lure Oyebode with some money while Otedola contacted the Commissioner of Police.
At the end of the day, crack team of detectives from the SFIU in Ikoyi arrested Babatunde Oyebode at his residence in Festac town, Lagos on Friday, October 21 at about 5am.
The Police source hinted that a lot of incriminating evidences were found on Oyebode’s laptop and phones with details of how money were transferred to gang members.
Meanwhile, IP addresses of some people giving the blackmailing gang stories as well as people commenting anonymously have been obtained by the police.
‘’A lot of the people that comment on the site do so anonymously, others with fictitious names and e mail addresses, forgetting that their IP addresses/ router remains unique. Some of the people will be arrested too and be brought to justice’’, our source quipped.
As at the time of filling this report, Oyebode is still being kept at the SFIU office in Lagos, while Femi Otedola has reportedly vowed to make sure all the members of the syndicate are made to face justice.