‘Internet fraud’: EFCC arrests 56 suspects in Ogun, warns hoteliers against ‘frustrating security agencies’

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has warned hoteliers against “frustrating” security agencies during operations.

The agency said this in a statement on Tuesday, following the arrest of 56 suspects in Ogun State.

According to the commission, 10 cars and other items were recovered from the suspects.

The agency advised hotel owners against accommodating suspects, adding that those found complicit will be prosecuted.

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has warned hotel owners across the country to be wary of allowing internet fraudsters to congregate or hibernate around their facilities,” the statement reads.

“The Commission gave the warning on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, on the heels of an operation by the Ibadan Zonal Command of the agency that led to the arrest of 56 suspected internet fraudsters in Abeokuta, Ogun state.

“They were apprehended at their hideouts, which happened to be popular hotels in the ancient city. The operation, which was based on verified intelligence backed by weeks of surveillance, was nearly frustrated by the hotel owners who employed various antics, including shutting down the power supply, to enable some of the suspects to escape arrest.

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“Despite the lack of cooperation by the hotel owners, the operatives demonstrated professionalism in ensuring that no one was hurt nor property damaged during the operations, contrary to the narrative in a section of the media.

“Nevertheless, the action of the hoteliers amounts to deliberate sabotage and obstruction of law enforcement officers, an offence punishable by Section 38 (2) (b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.

“The Commission has observed a worrying pattern of cold complicity by hospitality entrepreneurs, who appear to be hand-in-glove with suspected fraudsters by housing them over long spells and making internet facilities available to them.

“While the argument is being made in certain quarters that hoteliers as business people have no means of determining who a fraudster is before allowing them to lodge in their facilities, that position runs counter to the law. Section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud And Other Related Offences Act, 2006 provides for a prison term of between five and 15 years without the option of fine for any person who permits his premises to be used for any offence under the Act.

EFCC will therefore not tolerate situations where hotel owners or managers not only permit fraudsters to use their facilities but also deliberately shield them from arrest by frustrating law enforcement on such premises.”

The agency added that the suspects will be arraigned in court as soon as the investigation is concluded.

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