14th June, 2019
A Nigerian who duped several Indians of more than $216,000 has been arrested by Cybercrime Unit of Delhi Police. The 39-year-old Nigerian is Gilbert Okoye Pedro, a.k.a Raphael Hougbendji or Dr Raphael Hougbonji.
His trick was that he was into buying a non-existing Folinic B12 oil being produced in India, whereas the sample he gave his preys was simply honey.
The Nigerian reportedly duped more than a dozen people through his scheme.
According to the police, Pedro targeted the victims via LinkedIn and lured them in the business of sale and purchase of the fake Folinic B12 oil.
On Linkedin the Nigerian set up an elaborate profile to hoodwink people: he adopts the name Raphael Hougbendji, and claims to work for ‘Zoological Organisation’, based in Accra Ghana as its PRO for more than 22 years. He also claimed to have been a government minister as “Dr Dr. Rapheal Hougbonji former government minister, federal republic of Ghana”. Why his preys did not detect the contradictory spellings of his fake name, Hougbendji v Hougbonji’, was amazing.
The accused along with his associates also made websites of two fake companies — Assam-based Mahavir Herbals Pvt Ltd and Ghana-based Animal Welfare Zoological Ltd, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Cell) Anyesh Roy.
He used to contact people as a representative of the Ghana-based firm for a lucrative opportunity of export of Folinic B12 Oil’ from India to Ghana, which he claimed was required for producing vaccines for racehorses, the officer said.
Police said that two complainants approached them after they were duped of more than Rs 1.5 crore.
“Both the complainants revealed that the accused contacted them via LinkedIn and gained their trust. He even used to meet the victims personally to lend a degree of authenticity to the scam and used to weave a story to trap the victims on the pretext of purchase of Folinic B12 oil for a company in Ghana which he claimed would help them make a good amount of money,” said DCP (Cyber) Anyesh Roy.
Roy further added that Pedro pretended to be a mediator in the fictional sale and purchase of the product between the Indian victim and the Ghanaian company.
“The dealing amount was deposited in multiple bank accounts and was then withdrawn from ATMs in Mumbai and Bengaluru and the cash was used to buy different goods, particularly human hair,” said Roy.
There is a huge market in Nigeria for hair extensions and wig manufacturing. Human hair worth Rs 3,000 is sold for as much as 200 dollars or around Rs 14,000 in Nigeria.
One of Pedro’s victims, a resident of Tamil Nadu’s Vellore area, in his complaint alleged that he received a LinkedIn connection request from a man, who claimed to be Raphael Hougbendji from Ghana.
According to a report by pioneernews.in Raphael Hougbendji introduced himself to be working as a public relations officer (PRO) at a company in Ghana. He proposed a lucrative business to the complainant of exporting herbal vaccination products (Folinic B12 Oil) from India to Ghana.
“The accused told the complainant that Folinic B12 Oil is required for producing vaccination for race-horses for their clients. This oil is produced in India by a company. This oil was available in India at a very low price. He would buy the same oil from the complainant at a high price, thus leading to a lot of profit,” a police press note said.
The accused used to meet the victims in person to win their trust. He persuaded them to part with a larger sum of money. Initially, the complainant agreed to buy a sample quantity of oil for testing. He purchased 5 ml oil from the India company which later turned out to be honey, sent to the complainant by courier from Delhi itself.
“The accused pretended to be convinced of the authenticity of the said product and paid Rs 86,000 to the complainant for the sample oil to earn the complete trust of the complainant,” the police said.
After receipt of money, the buyer started avoiding the complainant and asked for more money on different pretexts. Then, the complainant got suspicious and opened the package of the so-called Folinic B12 Oil and found that it was just honey.
The police started investigating the matter after the victim’s complaint.
He was continuously changing his location and was finally arrested from Greater Noida. Five mobile phones, one laptop and one passport were recovered from his possession.