Cybercrime, or computer crime, is crime that involves a computer and a network The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target. Debarati Halder and K. Jaishankar define cybercrimes as: “Offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet (Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phones (SMS/MMS)”. Such crimes may threaten a nation’s security and financial health. Issues surrounding these types of crimes have become high-profile, particularly those surrounding hacking, copyright infringement, child pornography, and child grooming. There are also problems of privacy when confidential information is intercepted or disclosed, lawfully or otherwise. Debarati Halder and K. Jaishankar further define cybercrime from the perspective of gender and defined ‘cybercrime against women’ as “Crimes targeted against women with a motive to intentionally harm the victim psychologically and physically, using modern telecommunication networks such as internet and mobile phones”. Internationally, both governmental and non-state actors engage in cybercrimes, including espionage, financial theft, and other cross-border crimes. Activity crossing international borders and involving the interests of at least one nation state is sometimes referred to as cyberwarfare. The international legal system is attempting to hold actors accountable for their actions through the International Criminal Court.
A report (sponsored by McAfee) estimates that the annual damage to the global economy is at $445 billion; however, a Microsoft report shows that such survey-based estimates are “hopelessly flawed” and exaggerate the true losses by orders of magnitude. Approximately $1.5 billion was lost in 2012 to online credit and debit card fraud in the US. In 2016, a study by Juniper Research estimated that the costs of cybercrime could be as high as 2.1 trillion by 2019.
A 22- year old suspect, Falope Oluwole, arrested by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of Lagos State Police Command, has disclosed that he duped over 33 men while pretending to be a lady on Instagram.
Falope according to a statement by the Police was arrested when officials of the RRS decoy team, who had been monitoring him for some weeks, trailed him to a popular club in Ikeja City Mall on Thursday evening.
The officers were reported to have monitored him, and those he was interacting with at the club before arresting him and a colleague late in the night.
It was gathered that the suspect recently celebrated his birthday at Hard & Rock, Lekki, Lagos, week before his arrest, where he spent over half a million on foods and drinks.
The suspect, a 100 level part time student of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos, who allegedly confessed committing the crime, said that he has been in the business for more than two years.
The Police revealed that Falope’s activities on Instagram was placed under investigations when it received a complaint about an Instagram handle @blackberbiedoll, used for criminal activities, which was later traced to him.
Apart from @blackberbiedoll, which he prominently used for fraudulent activities, he maintained @froshwhite007 and @froshwhite separately for same purpose.
The complainant, Bernard stated that he got a friend request from @blackberbiedoll. “Apparently, the picture on the account was that of a lady. The lady in question messaged me on BBM. Honestly, I thought I was chatting with a woman who claimed to be in Nigeria at the time.
“She lied to me that her father was a Nigerian and her mum, a Kenyan, and so we got talking. At a point, she lied that she was building a beauty outfit in Ikota Shopping Mall, VGC and that she was in need of some money to complete the mall”, Bernard added.
He explained further, “I had to transfer N1million to her. Weeks later, I grew suspicious of the account name Olawole Israel Oluwaseun Falope. I ran a search on Google, and then discovered it was all scam.
” Immediately, I reported the incident to Instagram and that account was blocked and later suspended to prevent others from falling victim”.
Another victim, who did not want his identity disclosed said he paid N100, 000 into her account to support her bogus fashion outfit.
Admitting the allegation, the suspect noted that since he started the fraudulent act about two years ago, he had duped no fewer than 33 men pretending to be a lady on Instagram and that the least amount he received from any of them was N80,000.
“When I started, much as I pretended to be a lady on phone, some men on the other side didn’t believe me. I then downloaded an app on Google which transformed my voice into that of a lady whenever I am having conversation.
I got several pictures of Shayla, a pretty United States based lady on my profile. Since then, men have been disturbing me and calling to request for a date”, he stated.
He said, “what I do is that I assess people based on their appearance on Instagram, add them and thereafter open up conversations with them before I start bringing up all manners of stories in order to dupe them.
” At a point, I lied to most of them that I had an accident and I lost my ATM. I told them that I need some money. Some of them were generous enough to drop money into my account”.
“I lied to them that I was putting up a boutique and saloon at Ikota, VGC and Lekki, and that I need money to finish setting up.
” I know I made a mistake downloading Shayla’s pictures and used them for fraudulent purposes. I am telling you the truth, those that I have collected money from cant be more than 33”, he explained.
Investigations revealed that the owner of the profile pictures the suspect used, @Shayla had complained to Instagram that some Nigerians were using her profile pictures to scam unsuspecting members of the public.
It was also disclosed that the suspect claimed to be a friend of Toke Makinwa, Tonto Dike, Don jazzy, Peter Okoye, Toyin Aihmaku, Tee Y Mix, Oristsefemi, Timaya, Sean Tizzle, Dami Adenuga, Femi Otedola, Mike Adenuga jnr, Ramsey Noah e.t.c.
“I know all of them. I attend a lot of shows, I meet them, take photographs with them, even exchange numbers. Like sister Toke Makinwa, Tonto Dike, Uncle Ramsey Noah, these are the kind of celebrities I look up to and I want to be like them”, he stated.
But RRS investigators confirmed that he was following a lot of Nigerian celebrities on Instagram but they could not confirm if any of them fell prey to Falope’s antics, as many his Instagram chats with them got no response.
They added that a Ghanian business man who Falope claimed to have met at a popular club in Nigeria rebuffed his request to engage him in a chat.
They noted that Falope claims of being a halfcast, Fashion designer, stylist, cosmetologist, model were all part his fraud to make people fall for him. He was never a trainee or a specialist in any of this.
Our source added that he is not an half cast as he claimed to be, rather he bleached his skin.
“He didn’t deny this claim. He admitted bleaching his skin to escape the taunting of girls that he was a very ugly guy”, the source stated.
Items recovered from the suspect included, an iphone 6, 1 Samsung Galaxy A5, an Apple tablet, hand and neck chains, some new notes and a handbag.
Confirming the development, the Police Public Relations Officer, Suprintendent Dolapo Badmos, warned Nigerains to be careful on the internet because scammers are on the prowl world wide.
The suspect has been transferred to State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for further investigations.