Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Nigerian ‘prince’ who went phishing in city - - 14 Jun 2011

The Internet-savvy may have wised up to scams, but Aminisi Dele, who made Rs 5 cr in six months, showed that there is no dearth of Indians ready to fool themselves

In Bangalore’s high-end restaurants and pubs, he used to introduce himself as the ‘Prince of Nigeria’ and wouldn’t think twice of burning over 50K for a few drinks and the ‘right company’. But online, he became an anonymous conman, phishing for the greedy and the gullible under multiple false identities.

Ever since 26-yr-old Aminisi Dele alias Prince Mike came to Bangalore on a business visa last December, he has cheated about 25 people to the tune of Rs 5 crore. Last week, on Thursday, Dele’s luck finally ran out when the city police arrested him.

The arrest followed the detention of Abidio, a drug peddler and Nigerian national, who was Dele’s partner briefly when he was new to the city, but who fell out soon when the latter wasn’t ready to brave the risks of narcotics smuggling.

The police recovered two laptops from Dele’s house, and on examining them found, along with other incriminating evidence, email directories with lakhs of IDs that served no plausible purpose except illegal ones.

Dele’s modus operandi was to call up people randomly, claim in impeccable English that he was a representative of a multinational company like Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Vodafone or Pogo and say that he was calling to intimate the result of a lottery. If a person took the bait - and, as Dele soon learnt, there is no shortage of extremely credulous Indians - he would then provide an email id and ask them to send their personal and bank details across.

Dele, the professional conman that he is, wouldn’t go in for the kill immediately but would exchange a few authentic-looking emails. Then, once he had won the person’s trust, he would ask for a ‘remittance’ that ranged up to half a million rupees as expenses towards ‘customs clearance’, etc. Once he got this money, he would press for more, citing unforeseen delays and other expenses. Once he had fleeced a ‘customer’ to the maximum possible, he would cut off all connection.

According to the police, he also offered youngsters foreign jobs and so far he has cheated four persons in the city who lost a total of Rs 25 lakh. He was into the business of selling fake certificates of international universities too. Police sources revealed that Dele made between Rs 40 and 50 lakh every month through various conning activities.

He had a weakness for all the good things in life and is reported to have at least seven girl friends, all of them, interestingly, from African countries. He also made quite a few friends from the city’s elite cocktail circuit who apparently couldn’t resist the charms of African royalty. It seems that Dele, ever the cool customer, endeared himself even more to these folks when he hushingly insisted that they not reveal his princely pedigree due to ‘security reasons.’

Since last Thursday however Dele has been cooling his heels in the crowded cells of Parappana Agrahara. About an year ago, Dele was apprehended by the Mumbai police for a visa and impersonation offence and later let off on bail, but this time around it is not likely to be so easy.

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