Nigerian online scammers nabbed

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has arrested two Nigerian men alleged to have defrauded about 20 million baht from scores of Thai women through a global marriage scam in which they pretended to be US marines.

The DSI said Benjamin Olakunle Owewole, 44, and Oladapo Awooyele, 35, had told their victims they were US marines deployed in Afghanistan and promised to marry them after they completed the early retirement process from military service.

They asked the victims to wire them money to help pay the discharge processing fees. One of the women eventually became suspicious and informed the authorities.

The Nigerian men were arrested with approximately 11 million baht in cash in their possession. The DSI reported that at least 400 women all over the world had fallen prey to the fraudsters and about 20 million baht had been scammed from the Thai victims.

According to DSI chief Tharit Pengdit, the suspects had approached their targets, usually single women aged 40 or older, many of them widowed or divorced, via online chatrooms and Facebook.

The alleged swindlers elaborated their stories by having accomplices play different roles, such as sick family members, superiors and subordinates calling the victims. The women were duped into wiring funds into accounts in Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

The Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime, working with the police Crime Suppression and Technology Crime Suppression divisions arrested the two suspects at a shopping mall in Nonthaburi province.

At their hotel room in Bangkok investigators found US$370,000 in cash along with computers and cellphones used in the scam.

DSI investigators believe the gang is running their operation in several countries, including Sweden, Malaysia and Singapore, to make it difficult for authorities to gather evidence against them.

Related search: Marriage fraud, Crime Suppression, global fraud

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