There was tension on Tuesday in Ilesa, Osun State, as seven youths were killed during a clash between two rival cult groups.
The violence erupted around Idasa and spread to Ifofim, Brewery and Irojo as members of Eye and Aye confraternities clashed.
It was gathered that the leader of the Aye cult group, identified as Job Akinola aka Olupoti, was killed on Saturday during the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primary election in Ward 6, Odogbo-Ijesa, Atakunmosa East Local Government Area.
Olupoti group went for revenged yesterday and the resultant clash caused panic in the town as residents lamented that cultists were killing themselves like fowls.
The police spokesperson in the state, Yemisi Opalola, told City & Crime that five people were killed during the clash.
Our correspondent gathered that policemen and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) evacuated seven corpses from the scenes of the violence.
The NSCDC spokesman in the state, Atanda Olabisi, said law enforcement agents were on top of the situation and that peace had been restored to the affected areas.
Five suspected cultists were reportedly killed yesterday when Eiye and Black Axe confraternities clashed in Agbarho, Ughelli North Local Council of Delta State.
The Guardian learnt that the clash, which had to do with supremacy battle, started on Sunday, and the police had arrested 11 persons while others fled the community.
Sources hinted that the state Commissioner of Police, Ari Muhammed Ali, had ordered the Command Anti-Cult Unit (SACU), Dragon Patrol Teams and Police Operatives from Agbarho division to ensure that sanity is restored in the community.
Following the order, the DPO Agbarho Division, Sam Ogwa, swung into action and arrested the suspected cultists.
The command’s spokesperson, DSP Bright Edafe, who confirmed the incident, said two Pump action guns, one locally made gun, eight expanded cartridges and 10 rounds of live cartridges were recovered from the suspected cultists.
Edafe said: “Although the situation has been brought under control, more patrol teams have been deployed to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the community.”
He urged parents and guardians to caution their wards to desist from any cult related activities.
“While the criminals were operating locally, their ringmasters were based, Cryan believes, in Lagos. “Generally speaking, if it is a romance scam then it is coming out of Nigeria or Ghana,” he says. “Those behind it are the Black Axe Gang, they are the biggest criminal organisation in the world and they run everything.””
ISOLATION HAS BEEN LINKED TO INCREASES IN CASES OF ‘ROMANCE FRAUD’, WHERE GANGS GAIN ACCESS TO VICTIMS’ BANK ACCOUNTS VIA THEIR HEARTS
There are people sitting in office cubicles in a warehouse in the Nigerian city* of Lagos right now sweet-talking Irish people with the intention of stealing their hearts. And their money.
The malicious romancing is not just happening in Lagos and there are other warehouses, office buildings and non-descript suburban houses all over the world – including in Ireland – where criminals are reading from scripts written by malevolent Cyrano de Bergerac and using images of postcard pretty people downloaded from the internet to woo the innocent before ripping them off and breaking their hearts.
Since the start of the pandemic almost two years ago, romance fraud has ramped up all over the world with Ireland as vulnerable to the menace as anywhere else. According to Garda figures, incidences of the crime jumped by 150 per cent in 2020 with a similar spike recorded in 2021.
To put such percentages into context: in 2019 about €400,000 was lost by lovesick Irish people. With the country in lockdown for much of 2020 and people isolated and more lonely than before, that figure jumped to more than €1 million.
Meeting the love of her life and making millions into the bargain? It all seemed too good to be true. And it was
And that is only the money the authorities know has gone missing. Given the personal nature of the crime and the misplaced sense of embarrassment many attach to falling victim to it, far more losses are likely to go unreported.
“Romance fraud is one of the biggest money-making crimes out there,”says cyber crime specialist Det Supt Michael Cryan from his office in Harcourt Street, Dublin 2.
The fraud is as simple as it is vicious. Victims are targeted online and lured into fake romantic relationships by criminals using bogus identities. A long game is played, with trust built up over months if not years. Once that trust has been established, the thieves strike. Victims are asked for money, maybe so their “new love” can visit or help a sick family member. Sometimes their new love has a plan to invest for the “benefit” of the victim.
Then when the criminals have taken what they can, they vanish.
Given the cross-border nature of the crime it is hard to catch the perpetrators. Hard, but not impossible.
In 2019 gardaí received a complaint from a woman who had seen her bank account drained of €280,000 over a period of months in a series of increasingly complicated scams carried out by the same criminals.
The first point of contact was a dating app and that first contact came from a “professional” man who said he was based overseas. Long-distance romance blossomed before her new friend tipped her off to a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity. It was an elaborate ruse which saw her travelling to Dubai – at her own expense – to meet people she thought were senior executives in the business she was pumping her money into.
Meeting the love of her life and making millions into the bargain? It all seemed too good to be true. And it was. The hundreds of thousands of euro she invested over a nine-month period was funnelled through accounts in Ireland, Turkey, Dubai and Vietnam before disappearing.
Odd as it may sound she was lucky, as a subsequent investigation revealed she was on the cusp of losing even more money. When the whole thing unravelled, the woman went to the authorities. “We discovered the mails had been sent from Navan,” Det Supt Cryan says.
He still sounds surprised by that discovery almost two years on.
Officers from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau raided the house. “We caught a man actually on the fake profile he had been using to communicate with nine different women in Ireland,” he says. Multiple arrests were made and three people pleaded guilty to crimes related to the fraud.
Det Supt Cryan was tasked with phoning the women the Navan man had been stringing along. They were all at different stages of the scam and all dubious when his call came. “They were suspicious of me,” he says. “And I understand that. I had to tell them to call Harcourt St [Garda station] and to look me up online to convince them I was on their side.”
The arrest and subsequent guilty pleas of the criminals involved was a rare success tackling a crime that is, almost always, conducted by gangs based outside of Ireland and far out of reach of the authorities here. “This is the first time these guys have been caught in Ireland and until then my belief would always have been they were based overseas. One of them was in Dublin 15. I was driving by his home on the way into work each day, I could have hit his house with a stone,” Cryan says with the wryest of laughs.
‘We had one customer who invested €40,000 with a site which turned out to be fake’
While the criminals were operating locally, their ringmasters were based, Cryan believes, in Lagos. “Generally speaking, if it is a romance scam then it is coming out of Nigeria or Ghana,” he says. “Those behind it are the Black Axe Gang, they are the biggest criminal organisation in the world and they run everything.”
UGHELLI – The police in Delta State have confirmed the arrest of 25 suspected cultists and one drug baron/Indian hemp dealer at Agbor in Ika South Local Government Area and Eku in Ethiope East Local Government Area respectively in the state.
In a statement by the Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bright Edafe said the drug baron/Indian hemp dealer, Larry Onifon ‘m’ 24yrs was arrested on Tuesday 1st February 2022 by the Command’s crack surveillance team when they raided a black spot in Okwuchi quarters.
The suspect, Mr Larry Onifon claimed to be a fashion designer but was arrested in the drug neighbourhood while other suspects took to their heels.
Forty (40) packets of 100mg Tramadol; eighty-nine (89) wraps of weeds suspected to be Indian hemp; four (4) sachets of Swinol; three (3) containers of Loud; fifty-five (55) wraps of substances suspected to be cocaine were recovered from the black spot.
The suspect Larry Onifon also stated that the cartel popularly called “OBJ cartel” is owned by one of the fleeing suspects named “OBJ”.
In a related operation on January 31st, 2022 at about 9pm, the Command Raider’s operatives raided a criminal hideout at Agbor, Delta State, during which twenty-five (25) male suspected cultists were arrested.
Some of the suspects confessed being members of Black Axe Confraternity and Junior Supreme Aiye Confraternity.
A romance fraudster who conned several women out of thousands of pounds and targeted hundreds more has been jailed for 28 months, following a National Crime Agency investigation.
Osagie Aigbonohan, 41, originally from Lagos, Nigeria, used a number of aliases to contact several women online through dating and social media sites. Of those identified, investigators believe he conned them out of a total of £20,000 and in one case cheated a woman out of nearly £10,000.
Using the name ‘Tony Eden’, Aigbonohan struck up a ten-month relationship with one victim last year via a dating site and persuaded her to lend him money to hire drilling equipment for his overseas business.
He invented a story claiming to be broke after paying for the funerals of a number of people who had died in a machinery accident.
The victim made nine transfers, totalling £9,500, into various accounts held under fake identities, with the money eventually making its way into a personal account held by Aigbonohan.
Data from Aigbonohan’s phone showed that he also received money from at least eight other victims and had been in contact with over 670 people in total.
One of the women targeted was terminally ill, with Aigbonohan continuing to pursue her even after she had passed away.
Officers from the NCA arrested Aigbonohan in July 2021. He was carrying a false driver’s license at the time and was in the UK illegally, having overstayed his visa from two years ago.
Records showed that despite living in Abbey Wood, London, he’d spent victims’ money in locations across London, Manchester and Glasgow.
Today [14 January] at Southwark Crown Court he was sentenced to 28 months after pleading guilty to charges relating to fraud and money laundering.
Dominic Mugan, NCA Operations Manager, Complex Finance Team said: “Aigbonohan had no regard for these women. He went to great lengths to gain their trust, fabricating stories to exploit them out of thousands.
“This is a typical pattern of romance fraudsters; they work to build rapport before making such requests. Romance fraud is a crime that affects victims emotionally and financially, and in some cases impacts their families.
“We want to encourage all those who think they’ve been a victim of romance fraud to not feel embarrassed or ashamed but rather report it.”
James Lewis of the CPS said: “Romance fraud is a particularly callous offence, involving exploitation of an individual’s emotional needs and caring qualities, to extract money from them. People should be particularly vigilant over the coming month as we head towards Valentine’s Day and more people seek a partner.
“Aigbonohan demonstrated a cynical disregard for his victims, grooming them with romantic promises before dishonestly persuading them to provide him with financial assistance.
“Thanks to the extensive and thorough investigatory work of the National Crime Agency and the support of the individual victims, the CPS has brought an end to Aigbonohan’s fraudulently activities. Hopefully, this case will serve to act as a deterrent to other romance fraudsters who prey on victims in the same way.”
The NCA advises anyone using dating websites to avoid giving away too many personal details when speaking online to someone you’ve never met in person, as it can lead to your identity being stolen. You should stay on the site’s messaging service until you meet in person; don’t be tempted to switch to other platforms that offer less protection. And most importantly, no matter how long you’ve been speaking to someone online and how much you trust them, if you haven’t met them in person do not send them any money.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to ActionFraud.police.uk and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, which offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help people spot scams and protect themselves against fraud.
Four arrests of cult-like criminal gang members made in southern Italy after Nigerian woman forced into prostitution comes forward
Four alleged members of the Nigerian mafia have been arrested in southern Italy after a young sex trafficking survivor spoke out against them.
The men, who were arrested in Palermo and Taranto in the early hours of Tuesday, allegedly belong to the feared Black Axe, a cult-like criminal gang that emerged in the 1970s at the University of Benin, according to police.
Investigators in Palermo who led the operation said the woman, who is also Nigerian, was forced into prostitution after taking part in an occult ritual bound up with traditional spiritual beliefs, known as juju, which bond victims to their traffickers and to any debts they will incur.
“The suspects were charged with slavery, human trafficking, kidnapping and pandering [recruiting prostitutes],” the police said.
The woman, whom investigators said was convinced by a Pentecostal cleric to report her captors to police, had been imprisoned, raped, blackmailed and forced into prostitution to pay a debt of about €15,000 (£12,500).
Before she left Nigeria, like many other victims of sex trafficking, the woman had been made to undergo a traditional oath-taking ceremony involving complicated and frightening rituals often using the women’s blood, hair and clothing. Those carrying out the ritual, which has been found to have a profound psychological impact on victims, make it clear that failure to pay off those debts will result in terrible things happening to the woman and her family.
The abuse of religious and cultural belief systems in Nigeria has proved a deadly and highly effective control mechanism for traffickers recruiting women destined for the sex trade in Europe. A hugely profitable and well-organised criminal industry has been operating between Italy and Nigeria for more than two decades but the UN’s International Organization for Migration says it has seen a rise in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea in the past few years, lured by the promise of work in the country.
According to a Save the Children report last year Italy had 2,040 victims of sex trafficking – 716 of whom were registered in 2020 – with the majority of them Nigerian.
Father Enzo Volpe, a priest in Palermo who has been helping Nigerian women for nine years, told the Guardian: “These women are terrified of the threats and the violence perpetrated by their captors. They fear not only for their lives but also for those of their families back in Nigeria.”
“The problem,” said Volpe, “is that behind the slavery of these women there is a real mafia with members operating across the continent, who have total control over their victims.”
Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, or 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html
An execution in broad daylight has lifted the lid on the alleged nefarious enterprise of a SA-based Nigerian rapper with apparent links to criminal organisation Black Axe.
The killing at a petrol station on Central Avenue, in the Kempton Park area, on Monday last week led to a police chase and a deadly shoot-out on the R24 near the Gillooly’s interchange. Two Nigerian nationals were left dead and three were arrested, including Nicholas Ogbeifun, a rapper and alleged member of the Neo Black Movement of Africa, an alleged front for Black Axe…
● A 74-year-old Sandton woman has spent the festive season mourning her brother, whose death she blames on fraudsters.
The fraudsters stole R2.7m after intercepting an e-mail between the woman and her financial adviser regarding the proceeds of a house sale.
In 2019, the siblings sold their mother’s house for R3m, with the proceeds intended for the brother. But the money was stolen when the woman was arranging to deposit it into an investment account.
Now the bedridden woman, who asked to remain anonymous, is involved in legal action to seek compensation from financial service providers and insurers, but has received little help from the police.
The fraud is believed to be part the growing business e-mail compromise (BEC) scam. US law enforcement authorities are working with the South African Police Service to seek justice for hundreds of American victims of BEC fraudsters — mainly members of the Nigerian transnational organised crime group Black Axe — based in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
An alleged Black Axe member was arrested this month by Interpol in Douglasdale, Johannesburg, regarding an FBI fraud case. Police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo said the 39-year-old Nigerian is wanted in the US for wire fraud and money laundering.
His arrest was the latest in a global crackdown on Black Axe, including the detention in October of eight men — six of them alleged leaders of Black Axe’s Cape Town Zone.
The suspects allegedly scammed 100 US victims out of $6.8m (about R107m). They are also charged with money laundering and identity theft.
Opposing bail for the suspects, prosecutor Robin Lewis told the Cape Town magistrate’s court that though the victims are American, the authorities are aware of the Cape Town Zone having targeted many more people worldwide. “Law enforcement has identified additional victims in Germany, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, the UK and Canada, all associated with Black Axe Cape Town.”
The state’s evidence suggests Black Axe and sister organisation the Neo Black Movement of Africa have 56 to 150 members in the Cape Town Zone.
“Black Axe have used internet-based schemes to defraud victims in the US and elsewhere,” Lewis said.
In its 2020 fraud report, the FBI internet crime complaint centre said it had received 791,790 complaints of alleged fraud involving the loss of $4.1bn.
“Business e-mail compromise schemes continued to be the costliest: 19,369 complaints with an adjusted loss of approximately $1.8bn,” the FBI reported. More than a quarter of the losses were sustained by victims older than 60.
Prof Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at University of Alabama at Birmingham, told the Sunday Times that almost every BEC fraud case he has researched pointed to Black Axe.
The Sandton woman opened a case at Sandton police station but has not been informed of any progress despite repeated calls. “But even if they find the guys who did it, the money is gone, so what’s the point?”
The brother died in November after an accident at home, which the woman said could have been avoided if they had been able to afford carers.
“This money could have made a difference. I just can’t help to keep thinking my brother would have been living a better life, having a proper medical aid,” she said.
The Black Axe are one of the most feared and powerful organised crime groups in the world. The highly secretive mafia – referred to as a “cult” in Nigeria – have been accused of countless murders and are estimated to earn millions of dollars through internet fraud. But who is behind them? Are politicians involved?