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Indian connection of 'Nigerian' scams

The Times of India, Parth Shastri, TNN - 13-10-7 Click here for original article       Back to Articles

AHMEDABAD: When the police talk about "Nigerian fraud", it is assumed that nationals of the African country had formed crime hubs in India and were involved in crimes such as identity theft and 'carding' in which the victim's credit card is used overseas without his knowledge. However, in recent cases, police have discovered that many Indians are willing partners in 'Nigerian' schemes for quick bucks.

On Saturday, a team from Ahmedabad crime branch had caught four youths from Thane with the help of Maharashtra police. The bank accounts were used to transfer money from the account of city-based Hitesh Gidwani in June this year. The gang had managed to transfer Rs 26.10 lakh through e-banking but could withdraw only Rs 3.75 lakh before the police intervened.

"During interrogation, the accused mentioned one Immanuel Kenney, a Nigerian national based in Gurgaon, as the prime accused. Kenney and his accomplice used job portals to find youths willing to work for them. He would call upon them, assess their desperation and then spell out their plan. All that the unemployed youths had to do was to hand over to Kenney control of their bank accounts and, in some cases, identity documents. In return they would get Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000 per month," said a crime branch official.

S L Chaudhary, inspector of crime branch, told TOI that the members of the gang kept the bank documents for making withdrawals.

"The gang requires a large number of fresh accounts because an account, once used for fraud, soon comes under police scanner. So far we have come to know that the gang had targeted users of online banking who had frequent transactions. A new activity involving these users' accounts does not raise doubts. The e-transfers were conducted early in the morning so that by the time victims approach the police, several accounts have been used simultaneously and the money is gone within minutes," Chaudhary said.

The inspector further said that the amount from the targeted account is transferred to various accounts so that if one account is frozen, another can be used for withdrawal. For example, Rs 10 lakh would be transferred to five different accounts in Assam, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka where gang members would withdraw the money by cheque as soon as the banks open for work.

Senior crime branch officials stated that teams are working to find other members of the group and investigation is on to ascertain whether the gang had targeted more accounts based in Gujarat and Ahmedabad.

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