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Crime & Punishment of Friday, 6 February 2015

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Scam: Australian duped $2m; 9 In police grip

Nine out of 14 people who allegedly hatched a scam and succeeded in defrauding an Australian businessman, Peter Melvin Kleining, to the tune of two million Australian dollars on the pretext of assisting him to invest in Togo and Benin have been arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.

Four of the suspects are Nigerians, while five are Ghanaians.

Two other Nigerians and three Ghanaians who are also members of the syndicate are, however, on the run and the police have mounted an intensive search for them.

Suspects

The Nigerian suspects are Japhet Lucky Ogoro, also known as Ogoro Lucky Onome, alias James Frank Kwofie, 31; Stephanie Akile, 29; Gospel Robbie Ovie, 33; and Peter Emuobo Ubiebor, 42.

The Ghanaian suspects are Henry Biney, 43; Samuel Asiedu, 40; Prince Ebo Biney, 23; Joseph Iyaniu, 47, and Pascal Mensah, 34.

According to the Director General of the CID, Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr Prosper Kwame Agblor, the two million Australian dollar investment scam was reported by the Australian Federal Police through the Financial Intelligence Centre, Ghana.

He said investigations carried out by the CID revealed that initially Western Union Money Transfer had been used to transfer the money but at a point, the company became suspicious and blocked the Australian businessman and his friend from transferring money through its system, so the two resorted to family members to assist them to transfer the rest of the money on their behalf.

COP Agblor said it all started some time in 2008 when two Nigerians, Ogoro and Nelson Seme, alias Festus, hatched the plan in Nigeria and came to Ghana to execute it.

He said on arrival in Ghana, the two went into business by sending e-mails to Kleining and managed to convince him that they owned a company called Silver Gold Investment Limited in Benin and Togo.

They then asked Kleining to invest in the business, to which he agreed. Ogoro solicited the assistance of Ovie, another Nigerian resident in Ghana, to provide a bank account into which Kleining could transfer money.

Ovie in turn contacted Ubiebor, who had also come from Nigeria to Ghana to open an account with the Access Bank using a non-existent company called PS&E Global Limited.

Ovie indicated in his business registration documents that he was into real estate development and haulage services in Accra.

COP Agblor indicated that at that stage, Iyaniu too contacted Henry Biney, who worked with SG-SSB Bank and requested him to provide a bank account for the transaction.

Personal account

Biney provided a personal account which he opened with the National Investment Bank in Sunyani.

Stephanie, a petty trader, was also contacted and she provided her account details at the Stanbic Bank Kasoa branch.

He said Mensah, a graphic designer, who had indicated in his account opening documents that funds into the account would come from his business, also agreed to provide his personal account details at the Bank of Africa branch at Madina.

The director-general said all those suspects provided their account details to Kleining, who transferred money on many occasions into those accounts over the years.

The account holders cashed the money, took 10 per cent commission and handed the rest to Ogoro, who took the money to Benin and shared it with his accomplice Seme.

Kleining, convinced that the business could be a good deal, also asked his friend, 78-year-old pensioner, Fred Williams, to invest in the venture.

The two used the banks and then changed to Western Union to transfer the money to their supposed business partners in Ghana.

At a point Western Union became suspicious and blocked the two businessmen from sending money through Western Union, but they got their friends and relatives to send money to the syndicate in Ghana, believing that it would yield high returns.

After all efforts to get returns from the investment had failed, Kleining realised that he and his friend had been duped. They made a report to the Australian Federal Police who, in turn, contacted the Financial Intelligence Centre, Ghana in December last year for help.

Investigations conducted by the CID, to which the matter had been referred, led to the arrest of the nine suspects.