Nigeria fights the internet scammers

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…Maxwell Gbogboade, 44, of Maryland, was arrested at the lobby of the Philadelphia Airport Marriot Hotel where the victim was scheduled to deliver the $46,000.                                                                                                       

… “It seems that Nigeria is the international Internet scam capitol of the world.”-Risa Ferman Montgomery County DA

Alert bank officials helped authorities intervene to prevent a 64-year-old Hatfield Township man, who’d already lost $29,000, from giving away another $46,000 in a Nigerian online dating scheme.

Maxwell Gbogboade, 44, of Maryland, was picked up Thursday in the lobby of the Philadelphia Airport Marriot Hotel lobby where the victim was scheduled to deliver the $46,000. Gbogboade, described by authorities as “just a cog” in the scam, is being held in the county prison in lieu of $750,000 cash bail on attempted theft charges.

“This is just another variation of the online scams we all see coming out of Nigeria, the get rich quick or find the love of your life scams with which everyone with a computer is bombarded,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman Monday. “It seems that Nigeria is the international Internet scam capitol of the world.”

Maxwell Gbogboade

Maxwell Gbogboade

“Most people know these are scams and do not engage but there are still some trusting souls who fall prey,” she said.

“What is important here is that we actually got someone involved in these scams and arrested him here,” said Ferman. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to track back and find some of those responsible for these scams.”

The victim met a “Mary Douglas” through an online dating service. Their online relationship progressed through a series of e-mails and online chats.

At some point during the electronic relationship, “Mary Douglas” told the victim that she was traveling to Africa to star in a movie and needed some financial help with her traveling costs and related expenses.

Led to believe that “Mary Douglas” would be coming to Hatfield Township to be with him after her movie was completed, the victim wired and sent money transfers totaling over $24,000 to “Mary Douglas” and her “manager,” according to authorities. The victim also paid $5,000 to fly a “money courier” from Nigeria to London to New York to Philadelphia to pick up an additional $46,000 that “Mary Douglas” needed.

PNC Bank officials became suspicious on May 19 when the victim came to a branch office to withdraw $46,000 in cash, explaining he needed to give the money to a woman he met through an online dating service. The bank officials contacted police.

Reviewing the victim’s electronic correspondence with “Mary Douglas,” township police and county detectives discovered that the photos that she sent to the victim were photos of several different women taken off other websites, including pornographic websites. They also learned in their investigation that the Internet addresses that “Mary Douglas” was using originated in Nigeria.

The victim received a call from Gbogboade, who identified himself as a money courier by the name of “Soloh Batuya,” about 5 p.m. on May 19, telling the victim he had just flown into Philadelphia and to meet him at the airport hotel with the $46,000 in cash. He gave the victim a cell phone number to call when he arrived.

Working with Philadelphia police and airport security, authorities set up surveillance at the hotel and airport. Authorities took Gbogboade, who matched the description he had given the victim, into custody when he answered his cell phone after police dialed the number that he had given to the victim.

Gbogboade told authorities he had traveled from his home in Maryland to pick up money to purchase a car and send it to Africa, according to the criminal complaint.

“This is a significant amount of cash that was being sent to these scam artists,” said Ferman. “Thankfully, police were able to intervene.”

Asked about the victim’s reaction, Ferman said, “One of the things we see, particularly with seniors who fall victim to scams like this, is that they are embarrassed, humiliated. Obviously, all of us like to think we are smarter and more savvy. When you become a victim, it can certainly be very upsetting.”

Source: Nigeria Politico

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