A 36-year-old Charles Abam, a fraud suspect, who is now being held at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for attempting to defraud the children of President Muhammadu Buhari, was at one point in his life, a police sergeant.
According to Abam, after being jobless since 2003 when he lost his job as a policeman, he found out he could make a lot of money by defrauding influential Nigerians.
The suspect allegedly got hold of the phone number of a prominent chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, whom he contacted by impersonating Mrs. Daisy Danjuma, wife of Gen. T.Y. Danjuma.
Through the APC chieftain, he was able to contact some members of the First Family, setting in motion a con that was supposed to net him millions of Naira.
The indigene of Ndukwa East, Delta State, told investigators after he was tracked down and apprehended by the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, that he quitted his police post in 2003 after being enticed by a chance to travel abroad.
He said, “When I had an opportunity to travel out of the country I left my duty post and went on to process my documents, but I was defrauded and I lost all my money.
“I went back to my police job but I was told that I had been declared a deserter. I begged to be reinstated but was not taken back. I then began to look for work. I also applied for a bank security job but did not get it.”
A source at the IRT told Saturday PUNCH that in April 2017, Abam sent an SMS to the said APC chieftain, asking for the phone numbers of the President’s children.
The chieftain was said to have replied the SMS that she did not have the phone numbers of the President’s children but sent that of the elder brother of First Lady, Aisha, thinking she was communicating with Daisy Danjuma.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Abam again contacted the First Lady’s brother by SMS, asking for the phone numbers of the President’s children.
The police said he eventually got the phone numbers of the President’s children, whom he sent messages, again impersonating Danjuma” to asking them to present five names for a phantom job with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
When the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris was notified of the suspected fraudulent activities of Abam, the IRT was tasked with tracking him down.
Members of the First Family were said to have played along and sent some names and phone numbers to the suspected fraudster.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that eight names, which were provided by the police, were eventually sent to Abam and his accomplice, Felix Machi.
“The suspect then pretended to be officials of the NDLEA and called the phone number that had been sent to him. He asked them to pay a certain amount of money to a bank account, which would be payment for their kits during their training exercise. But no payment was made to the accounts,” our correspondent was told by the police source.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Abam was tracked down through the details of his bank account which he told his supposed victims to pay into.
The suspect, who also led operatives to arrest his accomplice, Machi, said he regrets his action.
According to him, his fraudulent activities started in 2014 after his unsuccessful attempts to find a job.
He said, “I started with internet fraud but I was not making enough money. Then, I went into local fraud. One of my friends, known as Mike, taught me how to impersonate people in order to get phone numbers of prominent politicians.
“Sometimes I also paid to get the phone numbers. I later met Felix (Machi), who became my partner. Before I attempted to defraud the president’s children, I had defrauded many politicians by pretending to be a kidney disease patient.
“I told some politicians that I needed financial help for a kidney transplant and many of them sent money to me. I got N70,000 from a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly,EmekaObinna, the Commissioner for Lands in Delta State and he gave me N50,000.
“One Senator Ahmed Kamoni, gave me N150,000 while another member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, ObinnaUzor, gave me N50,000. I also got N50,000 from Senator Ahmed Yerima. Even the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejefor, gave me N100,000.
“I also got N100,000 from the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Aniofor Udo andN5,500 from a former Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Daniel Abia.”
Abam said he gave 10 per cent of all the money he made from his kidney transplant fraud to Machi.
According to him, he only decided they needed to up their game recently when he broached the idea of defrauding the First Family to Machi.
He said he got the phone number of the APC chieftain from the APC Chairman in Delta State, Prophet Enu, by impersonating the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
Abam said, “Eventually, when I contacted the President’s children and they sent me the eight names, I realised the candidates were not cooperating. I knew something had gone wrong when I started receiving calls from people threatening to arrest me.
“I decided to destroy my phones and sim cards. I thought there was no way I could be tracked without them. But I was surprised when the police showed up at my house on Saturday and arrested me.”
The police authorities at the headquarters have said Abam and his accomplice would be charged to court as soon as investigation into the extent of their operation was complete.