W5 uncovers global network of organized crime targeting Canadians in romance scams

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/w5-uncovers-global-network-of-organized-crime-targeting-canadians-in-romance-scams-1.4663964

invisibleman

Investigative correspondent Avery Haines reveals a global criminal organization behind romance scams. Watch the W5 documentary Saturday at 7 p.m. on CTV. Below is her account of the tragic consequence resulting from one of these scams.

TORONTO — It is an eerie feeling to go through the computer of a dead woman. Touching the keyboard, scrolling through the chat history, looking at the photos. It is a terrible invasion of privacy. Our computers are, after all, the holders of our secrets, storing everything we’ve ever searched up, the messages we’ve sent, the pictures we’ve taken.

The computer belongs to a woman named Colleen. It was given to me by her grieving sister, Karen Ringham, in the days leading up to the one-year anniversary of Colleen’s death by suicide in Delta, British Columbia. (W5 is only identifying Colleen by her first name at the request of her family for privacy.)

Karen gave me her sister’s computer in the hopes I could find some answers about how her gregarious and beautiful sister could have been so tragically duped. Colleen was the victim of an elaborate romance scam that left her destitute.

But her death was not over the lost money. Her three-page suicide note revealed that the scam had spiralled into a sophisticated con that had Colleen believing she was about to be arrested.

She wrote: “I was advised yesterday that the authorities in Toronto know my first name and it is only a matter of time before they come to arrest me. I am too old and too law abiding to end up in jail.”

On October 9, 2018, Colleen ended her life. The RCMP was called. They read the suicide note where Colleen documented how she had given over almost $1 million. But the RCMP did no investigation into the fraud. They didn’t even open her computer to look for clues.

So W5 did what police failed to do. We took Colleen’s computer to a forensic investigator in Toronto, who cracked her password in less than one second.

Copying the hard drive, we were able to see that Colleen had been doing Google searches for protection orders, women’s shelters and the RCMP. She clearly thought her life was in real danger. And then there were the thousands of chats, with someone who went by the name of Ryan Scott, an online man she had fallen in love with. Little did she know that Ryan was a fraud and his photos were stolen from someone else to carry out an elaborate scam.

If police had simply examined Colleen’s computer they would have found the dating site where ‘Ryan’ first lured in Colleen. A key piece of evidence that could have been helpful in tracking down the scammers, according to forensic analyst Matthew Musters from Computer Forensics Inc.

“There’s likely a good amount of information at [the dating website], that we don’t have here,” he said. All it would have taken, Musters says, is a simple production order from police.

In a statement to W5, the RCMP said there was no fraud investigation because “Nationally and internationally, the RCMP does not have a mandate to pursue individual cases. However, by working with municipal, provincial, national and international law enforcement, and government and private sector partners, the RCMP is working hard to prevent, detect and deter organized crime groups that target Canadians and impact the economic integrity of Canada.” (Read full statement here.)

The RCMP showed no interest in trying to track down the person whose images had been stolen to rip Colleen off. Our investigation led us to a completely innocent Canadian man, named Tommy Kean, who says his photos have been used again and again by scammers. He figures at least 70 women have reached out to him over the last 5 years.

“The people that find me…are telling me they fell in love with me or the pictures, and assuming it’s me. It’s horrible,” he said.

Tommy had no idea though about the tragedy of Colleen in British Columbia. It left him stunned: “I don’t know what to say. That’s shocking, that’s disgusting, I’m very sorry for the family. Where are the authorities on this? They didn’t even reach out to me to let me know.” (watch the full interview here)

Tommy says he repeatedly tries to flag the fake accounts that have been set up using his pictures on Facebook and Instagram, but more and more phoney profiles keep popping up.

Facebook tells W5 in a statement that the social media platform “is built on the principle that people who use our services are who they say they are.” The statement continues: “We have a dedicated team that works around the clock to detect and block fake accounts and we remove large numbers of impersonating accounts on a consistent basis.” (Read the full statement here.)

What we have discovered is that the way Colleen was conned has all the markings of a notorious crime syndicate called The Black Axe, which is operating in 26 countries, including Canada.

Beyond the invasiveness of reading Colleen’s private emails and texts, the most difficult part of going through her computer is looking at her pictures. The first photos are of Colleen and her sister Karen, hugging and laughing on vacation. The last photos are of every single thing Colleen owned…the art, furniture, even the Christmas ribbons, being put up for sale to try to satisfy the ruthless scammers who Karen says stole her sister’s money and her life.

“This invisible man – took everything that she had worked for, her family, her friends, her home. And he also took her life,” said Karen

Watch the Video Here

 

$5 billion NBM fraud

Hats off to the great men and women of Toronto PD!!

Arrests in money-laundering investigation involving FBI
and United States Postal Inspection Service,
Ties to FBI case involving allegations of $5 billion fraud,
Police believe there may be other victims

Broadcast time: 10:41
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Financial Crimes
416-808-7300

The Mass Marketing Section of the Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes Unit is a member of the Toronto Strategic Partnership against Cross-Border Fraud. This partnership represents a combined enforcement strategy, specializing in the investigation of mass marketing fraud in, or originating from within, the province of Ontario with cross-border implications.

During August 2014, members of the Mass Marketing Section started a fraud-related investigation, which revealed a “romance scam” involving a 63-year-old widow from Toronto. The romance scam occurred during the first half of 2014. The victim was allegedly defrauded of approximately $609,000.

Investigators worked with members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Postal Inspection Service. This joint investigation uncovered the identities of individuals allegedly responsible for the cross-border laundering of proceeds of crime with a criminal organization.

It is alleged that:

– proceeds were obtained via a variety of fraudulent schemes directed against the public

– victims were encouraged to wire funds to a various bank accounts

– the funds were laundered and disseminated back to those directing the fraudulent schemes

On October 7, 2015, members of the Financial Crimes Unit, assisted by Peel Regional Police, executed a search warrant. Ikechukwu Amadi, 34, of Mississagua, and Lineo Molefe, 31, of Toronto were arrested. They have been charged in relation to the “romance scam” with:

1. Laundering the Proceeds of Crime
2. Fraud Over $5000

It is further alleged that:

– Akohomen Ighedoise, 41, of Toronto, is a member of an organization known as The Black Axe or Neo-Black Movement of Africa. The Neo-Black Movement of Africa is a transnational organization with affiliates in major cities around the globe, known as “zones.”

– Akohomen Ighedoise was actively laundering the proceeds of crime with/for other Black Axe members for monetary benefit

He has been charged with:

1. Laundering the Proceeds of Crime
2. Fraud Over $5000
3. Participating in a Criminal Organization

It is alleged that:

– the Black Axe/Neo-Black Movement are attempting to intimidate and exert influence upon Nigerian diaspora within the Greater Toronto Area

Toronto Police is encouraging anyone with information to please contact police or Crime Stoppers.

Based upon their own investigation, with assistance from the Toronto Police Service, the FBI recently indicted six individuals in an alleged vast wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, where conspirators attempted to defraud victims of more than $5 billion.

Akohomen Ighedoise and Ikechukwu Amadi are among those indicted. The United States intends to seek extradition of Akohomen Ighedoise and Ikechukwu Amadi upon the conclusion of their respective Canadian cases. Additional U.S. indictments are expected in the immediate future.

It is alleged that:

– Akohomen Ighedoise utilized the alias Martin Acker or Martins Acker Jr

– he claimed to be a representative of the United Nations

– this ruse was supported by the use of forged UN identification dating as far back as 2011.

Police believe there may be other victims.

The Toronto Police Service is appealing to anyone who may have had dealings with the man pictured or had dealings with a person using the name of Martin Acker.

Canada Zone Crisis

Handbags at dawn in the Canada Zone….

Much internal fighting leading to the creation of a “two man committee” to investigate the crisis who actually managed to nearly start fighting too.

The crisis summarized:

The Zonal Chairman organised and “led a hit squad” to attack a fellow NBM member in car wash for “not greeting him correctly” in the ‘club house’.

A suspended NBM member was due to be married (but under the terms of any suspension a Lord cannot in anyway associate themselves with that member and therefore in this case could not attend the wedding). The suspended Lord pleaded with both the Zonal Head and Chairman and took them gifts of alcohol. They accepted the gifts of alcohol got together at at a Council of Elders meeting consumed the alcoholic gifts and had their own little jolly….. then sent SMS messages to all the members they should NOT attend the wedding. Some members disobeyed this command which led to 20 members been de-axed. Then the suspended member was un-suspended 24 hours after his wedding (i guess as some kind of joke?!)

Other members were been subjected to harsh beatings by the Butcher and his henchmen,

Many members were been punished, suspended and de-axed for nominal, unfair or inaccurate reasons.

The committee came to some conclusions to resolve the matters. Some are very interesting.

“Neo Black Movement should go with the flow of today’s world, we are in the 21st century, and it should shift from militancy to a more civil organization that will accommodate its now aging members.” (They are getting too old to beat people up and fight)

“The use of force to resolve its problem is unacceptable” (it takes a committee to work this out finally?)

“No Lord should be subjected physical pain either in a private or public place” (This you can read below is in reference to the punishment of Lords…. like what they call “match” or “5 minutes” where the Zonal Butcher drags a Lord outside to be dealt with.

Also the usual bickering about money

Read the full thing below:

RECONCILIATION COMMITTEE REPORT ON CANADA ZONE CRISIS

a two-man committee made up of Lord Oba ON2 and Lord Jambarama 1 met in Toronto to reconcile factions involved in the Canada zone crisis. A faction led by the Head of the zone and another led by a former Head in Canada zone Monyor. During the session, members of both factions were allowed to speak freely. Voices were raised, at a time we felt the roof was going to collapse, members almost were physical. At stage members of the committee stormed out of the room in anger. Thank God tempers came down and in the phase 2 of the meeting we were able to resolve the crisis.

After review of petitions, numerous phone calls and 9 hour truth and reconciliation meeting in Canada with lords, the 2-man committee arrived at the following findings and recommendations: FINDINGS The Canada zone crisis was a revolt by some lords against a high-handed leadership that forgot that membership of NBM is by choice and has no right to control private lives of members. Some scenario that will help to understand what caused the crisis

Scenario 1 A lord on suspension went to inform and invite the Zonal Head and the zone for his marriage. He did it the African way, he went with hot drink and pleaded with the head to lift his suspension and allow the zones to attend his wedding because all his friends in Canada are Ayes and his best man is also a lord. He also met the chairman, gave him the marriage dress and begged him to attend his wedding. The head took the hot drink to the COE meeting, they accepted the drink. Both dress and drink were accepted by the Canada zone leadership. Here is what they did: A day before the wedding the head sent text messages to Lords not to attend the wedding and a day after the wedding the leadership lifted his suspension. What happened within 24 hours that made the leadership to lift the suspension of a lord who chose to marry in a foreign land where his only family is his confraternity friends, members of Neo-Black Movement. Many lords begged the Head to allow them attend the wedding in their private capacity, not as members of Neo Black Movement, he refused. He insisted they must not go. Then, the rebellion some lords decided to go and were prepared to face the hammer of a sadistic leadership. The hammer came from the zonal head: Six among those who attended the wedding were deaxed for attending the wedding, for “disrespect for constituted authority”, 14 others were suspended for same offense. The leadership has just created a formidable rebellion that will drag on for the next one year.

Scenario 2 A lord was accused of not greeting the chairman in a club house, the chairman himself led a hit squad to attack the lord, he was “played” in a car wash, and the chairman slapped him. The leadership later deaxed him. This created bad blood with other lords who felt the deaxed lord would have been given opportunity to defend himself. THE CANADA ZONE COE The leadership of the COE was very frail, it did not provide the necessary check and balance that would have helped to prevent the crisis, and rather it was part of the problem, it operated as part of the executive. The chairman was very weak, he created leadership vacuum filled naturally by Lord Bonafinger, Aka (PM) a permanent member of the COE. The Chief Priest (CP) did the unthinkable he “voluntarily” ceded his power to Lord Bona Finger in an IT and the COE did not find anything wrong with the mistake. “Code blue” Code blue was created by the leadership of the COE to undermine the constitution of NBM and the principles behind the creation of the Council of Elders as a democratic unit of the movement. When the word “code blue” is mentioned during COE deliberations it reminds the elders that they should not disagree with the leadership. One member of the COE was deaxed and another resigned in protest, the positions are yet to be filled as at when we met. However, the committee discovered that other factors helped to sustain the crisis, most important of them was the bitter feud between Lord Abebe Bikila former head of Canada Zone and Lord Bona Finger (PM), the committee was able to reconcile both of them and reminded them that as elders in the zone they should be “uniters not dividers”. Others are unaxemanly behavior by many lords such as gossips, lies, cowardice, ego, unforgiving spirit, sycophancy and the use of force to settle issues. We also condemn in all ramifications, the rebellion spearheaded by Monyor and Eghosa, they should always use the proper avenue to pursue their cause. The forming of unparallel government is unacceptable and against the constitution of NBM.

Recommendations

1. Neo Black Movement should go with the flow of today’s world, we are in the 21st century, and it should shift from militancy to a more civil organization that will accommodate its now aging members. The use of force to resolve its problem is unacceptable. No Lord should be subjected physical pain either in a private or public place. To be specific “match” should be banned, and replaced with other innovative civil punishment like paying fine and suspension.

2. Zonal bye-laws should be sent to the national body for ratification.

3. The present leadership should be allowed to complete their tenure which will end in less than a year from now; we don’t want to send a wrong signal that the leadership of the movement can be sacked diabolically. We condemn rebellion; we need a one united NBM in all tiers.

4. The movement should create structures for members with genuine grievances to seek justice. We are suggesting the national body create regional judicial council to resolve issues like this one; it is in our opinion that the national body was slow in applying the right solution to the problem after receiving the first petition from the aggrieved Ayes.

5. The use of deaxeation as an option should be minimized, deaxeable offences should be well spelled by the national.

6. In resolving the crisis the leadership and the Monyor/Eghosa led faction agreed on the following: (a). To strengthen the COE to enable it perform its constitutional function of checks, 3 lords from the Monyor/Eghosa led faction should be appointed to the present COE and other 2 lords to the present Exco. (b).The leadership agreed to lift the suspension of Monyor and Eghosa immediately. (c).The deaxed Ayes should be pardoned if they show remorse and pologize to the victims (The head and Bona Finger). (d)The committee discovered of the 6 deaxed lords by the national body, 2 lords did note part in the attack against the hhead and lord Bona finger. We recommend that the 2 lords (Paul-large and Osawaru) should be recalled by the national body immediately 7. The former Ihaza(Eghosa) a co-signatory to NBM account should release NBM money in the bank to the present Ihaza immediately. List of lords in the reconciliation meeting

Signed. Lord Oba ON2 (Atlanta)………………………………………………………………

Signed Lord Jambarama 1 (New York)…………………………………………………..

List of lords in the reconciliation meeting:

1. Lord Oba-Member reconciliation committee

2.Lord Jambarama Member reconciliation committee

3.Lord Abebe Bikila

4.OlaudaH Equiano-Eseosa

5.Obiriyebua-Espero

6. Ahmed Baba

8.Oba Ovonranmen-Kabila

9.Monyor

10. Muta Muta Baruka-Finbaz

11. Steve Biko-Edwin

12. Camuzu Banda-Obele

13. Water Susulo-Chris

14. Bona Finger-Eugene

15.Kaduna Nzeogwu-Mr. Wise

16.Bazi Bagada-Ogieva

17. Maquamba de first-Uyi