Malaysia-based popular Lagos Yahoo boy, Hope Olusegun Aroke, popularly called H-Money or Oracle to Gbe Ise Wole” was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) back in 2012 for an internet scam.
He was arraigned by EFCC on a two-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretense, cheque cloning, wire transfer, and forgery. The court found him guilty of the two charges and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment on each of the two counts.
Aroje who is an indigene of Okene, Kogi state had claimed to be a student of Computer Science at the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University, Malaysia but after the Nigerian anti-graft commission got a tip from an anonymous petitioner, investigations fished him out as “arrowhead of an intricate web of internet fraud schemes that traverse two continents”.
When Aroke was arrested, a search conducted by EFCC operatives on his apartment led to the recovery of several items such as laptops, iPad, traveling documents, checkbooks, flash drives, internet modem, and three exotic cars – a Mercedes Benz Jeep, One 4Matic Mercedes Benz Car, and a Range Rover Sport SUV.
Further investigations showed that he was involved in several romance scams that fetched him N25million. He admitted sending the money to Nigeria through a person identified as Angela, who later helped him deposit in a bank.
He was eventually convicted by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos State High Court on two counts of obtaining money by false pretense, cheque cloning, wire transfer, and forgery.
He was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment on each of the two counts which makes his final verdict 24 years.
Fast forward to 2019, while still serving jail term in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos, a convicted Hope was able to pull off an internet scam worth $100,000,000 from prison.
The Lagos Zonal office of the EFCC revealed that it uncovered that Aroke was still in active communication with other high valued targets.
The EFCC, in a statement, said the high valued targets were currently being investigated by the Commission for various offenses relating to computer fraud and money laundering.
“Investigation revealed that he masterminded the commission of internet scam worth over $100,000,000 (One hundred Million Dollars) whilst serving his jail term,” the EFCC said.
In a statement released by the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwajuren, he said Aroke left the prison severally to meet with his wife and two children, as well as attend parties in the state.
The statement reads in part;
“He allegedly pulled the heist right from prison using a network of accomplices, some of them, targets of fraud and money laundering investigation”.
The commission was faced with the riddle of how Aroke was able to carry out his fraudulent activities from prison.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the convict, against established standard practice, had access to the internet and mobile phone in the Correctional Centre where he is supposed to be serving his jail term.
According to reports, Aroke even 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.
The circumstance of his admission into the hospital and those who aided his movement from the hospital to hotels and other social engagements are still being investigated by the EFCC.
Further investigations revealed that Aroke had created another name Akinwunmi Sorinmade, which he used to open two accounts with First Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.
He also bought a property at Fountain Spring Estate, in Lekki, Lagos in 2018 for N22million, and a Lexus RX 350 2018 model registered in his wife’s name, Maria Jennifer Aroke. The convict was also in possession of his wife’s bank account token in prison, which he used to freely transfer funds.
Further investigation revealed that, while his trial was ongoing in 2015, Aroke bought a four-bedroom duplex at Plot 12, Deji Fadoju Street, Megamounds Estate, from Lekki County Homes, Lekki for N48million.
The scandal stirred different reactions from Nigerians. Many believe that Aroke couldn’t have pulled off the exploits without help from the prison officials which boils down to the conclusion that all fraudsters and corrupt politicians who claim to be in prison still have a way of living the royal life in there.
After the uproar, nine officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOs) were suspended by the Civil Defence, Correctional, Fire, and Immigration Services Board (CDCFIB) after being implicated in the $1m scam.
Emmanuel Oluwaniyi and Hemeson Edson Edwin who are both deputy controllers of the Nigerian Correctional Service were also arrested by the EFCC for allegedly giving exaggerated medical reports which warranted a convicted internet fraudster Aroje to be given a referral to be treated outside the facility.
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