Nigerian man, his girlfriend, 12 others nabbed for romance scam in Thailand

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BY MAYOWA SAMUEL

The Royal Thai Police have arrested a 45-year-old Nigerian man and 13 Thais for operating a covert romance scam.

The Nigerian national identified as Ezeneche Uzochukwu Jerome, his Thai girlfriend, and the other suspects were arrested on Thursday following police operations across seven provinces.

According to the police, the scam operation managed to deceive hundreds of victims across Thailand out of over 8000 million baht (Thai official currency), in the past four years.

The Commissioner of the Crime Suppression Division Montri Tatekhan, in a statement on Friday, explained that the victims filed a complaint against a romance scam gang at the beginning of 2022.

The victims revealed to officers that the scammers used profiles of attractive foreign women to approach them on social media.

The scammers informed them that they were American soldiers performing duties in Syria.

After gaining the trust of the victims, they would express their desire to come to Thailand to see the victims.

However, before their journeys, they would inform the victim that they sent gifts or some parcels into Bangkok, via the airports.

Then, they would lure the victims into paying taxes or other relevant expenses for them in advance and they would return it when they meet each other.

A group of Thai scammers then contacted the victims pretending to be airport authorities and demanded money for the alleged parcel-receiving process.

After getting the amount they wanted, the scammer would disappear and block all the contact channels with the victims.

The police conducted further investigation until they managed to identify the gang leader, 45-year-old Ezeneche Uzochukwu Jerome who had been previously charged with a love scam in 2018 but managed to re-engage in the illicit operation.

After an investigation into the gang’s financial transactions, the officer discovered that each scammer would immediately transfer money from the victim into an account abroad.

From 2018 to 2022, the gang managed to extort over 800 million baht from victims and deposit it into a foreign bank account.

Since the criminal action was backed and proven by several damning pieces of evidence, officers conducted raids on 14 suspicious spots across the country, including seven spots in Bangkok, one spot in Pathum Thani, two in Pitsanuloak, one in Uthai Thani, one in Uttaradit, one in Kamphaeng Phet, and one in Pichit.

During the operation, an officer arrested 14 suspects behind the scams, including the gang leader Jerome and 13 Thais.

Officers also seized 11 mobile phones, 10 bank accounts, 18 debit cards, two computers, two Channel bags, and several documents involved in the financial transactions to work abroad.

The Nigerian man’s girlfriend claimed that they were no longer together.

According to her, after breaking up, the man invited her to join the gang.

She could not refuse because of her financial struggles and unemployment.