The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has called the attention of the general public to the activities of a band of fraudsters who have been extorting head of ministries, departments and agencies, claiming they were acting at the behest of Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman of the Commission.
According to the anti-graft agency, no fewer than three ministers have in the last few weeks drawn the attention of the Commission to the activities of this gang of criminals, an information that points to a worrisome trend in which criminal groups now use the name of the chairman of the EFCC to con unsuspecting members of the public.
The commission explained it had cause to issue a statement after it came to light that some person had been approaching suspects under investigation by the Commission, claiming they have the instruction of the acting chairman to seek gratification for them to be given soft landings.
Also, there have been instances in the past in which fraudsters cloned the email and Facebook accounts of the EFCC Chairman and were sending messages demanding bribes from unsuspecting members of the public.
“These reports are indeed worrisome as they detract from the well-established mode of operation by the Commission. As a highly disciplined and professional organization, demanding and receiving bribes are serious offences against discipline in the EFCC.
“The punishment for such acts includes dismissal and prosecution. Staff of the Commission are reasonably well paid and have no need to seek rent from suspects. The mere fact that a supposed officer of the EFCC demands gratification should put the public on notice. Under no circumstance should members of the public offer gratification to any one that claims to be an officer of the EFCC. Indeed such demand for gratification is enough indication that the so called ‘operative’ could be an impostor.
“The Commission regularly receives report about fake invitation letters to persons and organizations by fraudsters claiming that such persons are under investigation by the agency. Some victims of this scam have been directed to unimaginable places and defrauded by the criminals. Many victims however believed they actually dealt with bonafide officers of the Commission, while those who belatedly realise their folly are often too embarrassed to come forward. This calls for circumspection as the public need to verify such invitations and ensure they truly emanate from the Commission,
“Unfortunately, despite repeated warnings, some members of the public continue to fall prey to the antics of these fraudsters. The EFCC again wishes to dissociate itself from the activities of these criminal gangs. Mr. Magu has not mandated any person to collect gratification under any guise on his behalf. Those doing so are simply employing the fear factor to defraud persons who apparently are too jittery about prospects of investigation by the Commission. The EFCC as an agency does not condone gratification either to facilitate or ‘kill’ an ongoing investigation.
“The EFCC will no longer tolerate the activities of these fraudsters which is capable of eroding the credibility of the agency and the integrity of its leadership. Consequently, the Commission warns that it will deal decisively with anyone caught using the name of the EFCC or its chairman for fraudulent purposes.
“Consequently, the public is implored to report any one found to be soliciting gratification on behalf of the Chairman of the EFCC or any senior officer of the agency, to the nearest police station or contact the EFCC”, the commission said in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja.
SEYI ANJORIN, Abuja