A convicted Nigerian fraudster earned more than $1 million from a scam that he executed while serving a multi-year prison term.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) launched an investigation into how Hope Olusegun Aroke had pulled off the heist while serving a 24-year sentence at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison.
It found that the Nigerian fraudster had been enjoying a fair amount of leeway as a prisoner. Specifically, the EFCC determined that Aroke had been using the web and a mobile phone while at Kirikiri. The Nigerian law enforcement agency said this occurrence violated “established standard practice.”
That was just the beginning of Aroke’s freedoms. As the EFCC disclosed in a write-up of the case:
Even more puzzling was the finding that Aroke got himself admitted to the Nigeria Police Hospital, Falomo, Lagos for an undisclosed ailment. And from the hospital, he would move out to lodge in hotels, meet with his wife and two children and attend other social functions.
It’s perhaps during those periods when Aroke used “Akinwunmi Sorinmade” as a fictitious name to open two accounts at the First Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, purchase property in Lekki for N22million and buy a Lexus RX 350 2018 model registered in his wife’s name.
Even when he returned to prison, Aroke enjoyed access to his wife’s bank account token, the EFCC’s investigation uncovered. This access enabled him to move around funds while serving his prison term.
As of this writing, the EFCC is looking to piece together the network of accomplices that Aroke might have used to pull off his scam. It’s also investigating the circumstances in which the fraudster gained admittance to the local hotel and asking about individuals who might have helped transport him to hotels and social functions.
At the time of his arrest in 2012, Nigerian authorities discovered several electronic devices along with three exotic cars at his apartment. Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos State High Court ultimately convicted him on two counts of obtaining money by false pretense, check cloning, wire transfer and forgery.
Given the persistence of criminals like Aroke, it’s important that users have a basic understanding of the laws surrounding digital crime. This resource is a good place to start.