Crime Focus

419ners and rest of us


With Saliu Woru Mohammed

Ghanaian novelist Ayi KWei Amah is one of the renowned novelists whom I respect and cherish so much. I particularly appreciate his work in one of his novels titled: “The beautiful ones are not yet born”. Perhaps Amah, a prolific writer has foresight of what the society will become, when he conspicuously spelt the word  “beautiful,” which I believed was intended to send the message of the novel.

Coming home to Nigeria, our Nobel laureate and writer of substance, Professor Wole Soyinka who recently clocked 70, in one of his books similarly unveiled a fraudulent manner used in obtaining money. In that play, the erudite professor revealed unmistakably how church leaders use members as his own source of income. That was in his book titled: The Trial of Brother Jero”. The two works were published over two decades ago and the characters there are fictitious.

Similarly, another play writer and famous stage actor, Chief Zebrudaya popularly known as Alias 4:30, once released an elpee in which a Biochemist graduate engaged himself in Church business and fraudulently charged fees for consultations. The work was similarly imaginary. The story this week is real not fiction.

It is a story you cannot afford to miss, one which borders on crime, modus operandi and need for you to be security conscious at all times so as not to fall victim of criminals. Crime you will agree with me is a persistent social problem, which is ubiquitous, that is it is everywhere at the same time, crime is not a prerogative of a particular race, religion or sex. Crime can be described as a manifestation of greed and selfishness, doing illegal business or the illegal acquisition of wealth or material.

Experience has shown that crime does not discriminate. A good case is the involvement of highly placed local government officials in massive fraud and other malpractice as revealed by the Justice Oluyemisi Ajayi Panel of Inquiry and the recent arrest of one Mrs. Nnochotan Onyebuchi by the security men found with illegal possession of 29 fire arms (automatic weapons) neatly packed in bags.

Crime can be regarded as simple or complex. Whatever the case, members of the public are no doubt as scared of the activities of criminals as they are of 419.

Under the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences decree, the offence of obtaining money under false pretence is committed when any person by false pretence with intent to defraud or obtain property from any other person in Nigeria or in any other country induces any other person to obtain a benefit. 419 is just a term used for tricksters who either deceive innocent people to believe that they have goods for sale or that they can do one thing or the other if they are given certain sum of money or the deceit with an intent to defraud, obtain from any other person anything capable of being stolen or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen.

419 suspects do not demand small amount of money. Their demands usually range from thousands of naira and even sometimes millions. 419 men are known to be usually highly intelligent people with sugarcoated mouth. Criminal records show that 419 groups operate in many and different guises and always identify weak points of their victims before approaching them. They can claim to be relative of highly placed serving or retired government officials or top politicians or claim to be ex-school mates of top military, serving or retired police officials. Similarly, fraudsters can impersonate company directors, a successful businessman or woman, or sometimes lure their unsuspecting victims to believe that they can deliver some goods.

Study has shown that 419 syndicates can claim to be representatives of foreign investors, with huge capital and companies abroad. We discovered in the past that 419 groups claim to be money doublers, and fraudulently make their victims believe that they can even print currencies of various countries of the world, and in the process receive huge amount of money from their victims. It is normally after they have fraudulently received the huge amount of money that unsuspecting victims get to know that they have been duped. In a bid to convince their victims that they are credible, fraudsters claim to have internet connection and influence and often appear in expensive dresses. They sometimes bleach and usually appear in flashy cars, and keep pretty women. They live in big hotels and mansions from where they operate. Tricksters have offices where they operate and equip them with expensive materials.

Experience has shown that in most cases, their victims pledge their valuable cars and buildings. Tricksters are lovers of prostitute and operate under false names. They sometimes use their women friend (prostitute) as a bait and thereafter lure their targets.

Their victims sometimes prepare agreement to legalise the business or sometimes release documents of their property to them as arranged and even sometimes enter into agreement in favour of the nefarious activities of the tricksters. They will give them some conditions which is not easy to fulfill and they eventually end up disappointed. Whatever be the reason for our crazy desire for illegal wealth, it is time for a change of heart. The practice is detestable and you have responsibility to get worried when people are just flaunting money recklessly. We should be wary about the acquisition of our wealth. We should not encourage overtly or covertly any criminal tendencies.

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