I never knew he was a fraudster, he seemed so genuine that I had no doubt when I entrusted him with my money,” laments Chief Noble Emeka Ogbu, who was hoodwinked into parting with N8million by a bogus house agent in Abuja.
The story of Chief Emeka who resides at No 8 Shell Location Road, Orazi, Port Harcourt, is a recurring decimal in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where many have fallen prey to the uncanny antics of fraudsters, with some of them even issuing fake Certificates of Occupancy to their unsuspecting victims after collecting huge sums of money from them.
Nevertheless, the peculiarity in the instant case is that the victim has petitioned the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, alleging that some bank officials connived with the fake house agent to defraud him. Meanwhile, the said agent has vanished into thin air with the money.
In a petition dated July 30, 2012, which has been served on the Governor of the Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi through solicitors to the victim, led by Barrister George Orji, it was alleged that some bank officials helped the said fake House agent who gave his name as Shola Damiro, to open a special account for the sole purpose of effecting the illicit transaction, after which the entire N8m was withdrawn and the account closed.
According to the petition, a copy of which was made available to Saturday Vanguard by counsel to the victim, “our client on the 20th June, 2008, raised a Zenith Bank manager’s cheque in the value of N8, 000, 000 (Eight Million Naira Only) in favour of one Shola Damiro (the agent). Find a copy of the cheque annexed hereto. The said manager’s cheque was raised pursuant to the purchase of a property in Gwarimpa for which the agent claimed he had a power of Attorney to act for the landlord.
“When the agent was discovered to be impersonating, our client contacted his bank (Zenith Bank), discovering that the cheque has been cleared, he also wrote to notify Skye bank Plc of the development and asked that the account be pegged, but disbursements on the account were never restricted.
“In a bid to trace the agent now absconded, our client notified the police and the management authorities of Skye Bank Plc, investigations revealed that the agent’s account is domiciled at the Garki, Area 8 branch of Skye Bank. The account being a new one was opened on or about the date on which our client issued him the cheque, thus it was primarily opened for the purpose of clearing the cheque of our client.
“It was further revealed that the contact address in Jos, Plateau State which the agent used in opening the account is non-existent; also the referees to the account were sourced for the agent by his account officer.
“It is our firm and strong opinion that Skye Bank Plc neglected the Know Your Client (KYC) Rule, a duty that that behoves on them to exercise most diligently when opening an account; such negligence has made it elusive for our client to trace the agent and retrieve his money. And all our efforts to get Skye Bank Plc to view the scenario in this perspective and do the needful, have proved abortive.
“We urge you to intervene, use your good and regulatory office to debit Skye Bank Plc, conclude your findings on the instant and restore to our client.”