Falope Oluwole Israel, a 22-year-old part-time student of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos, who has been posing as a girl on Instagram to defraud unsuspecting people, was last week arrested by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, of Lagos State Police Command.
Falope was reportedly arrested by officials of the RRS decoy team at a popular club in Ikeja City Mall last Thursday after trailing him for weeks.
His arrest along with a colleague was sequel to series of monitoring by the officers and those that he was interacting with at the club.
It was gathered that the suspect recently celebrated his birthday at Hard & Rock, Lekki, Lagos, a week before his arrest, where he reportedly lavished over half a million naira on foods and drinks.
The suspect, a 100 level part time student, confessed to the crime, saying he had been in the business for more than two years.
The Police revealed that Falope’s activities on Instagram was placed under investigations following series of complaints about an Instagram handle @blackberbiedoll, used for criminal activities, which was later traced to him.
Apart from @blackberbiedoll, which he prominently used for fraudulent activities, he maintained @froshwhite007 and @froshwhite separately for same purpose.
One of the complainants, simply identified as Bernard, stated that he got a friend request from @blackberbiedoll: “Apparently, the picture on the account was that of a lady. The lady in question messaged me on BBM. Honestly, I thought I was chatting with a woman, who claimed to be in Nigeria at the time.
“She lied to me that her father was a Nigerian and her mum, a Kenyan, and so we got talking. At a point, she lied that she was building a beauty outfit in Ikota Shopping Mall, VGC and that she was in need of some money to complete the mall.
“I had to transfer N1 million to her. Weeks later, I grew suspicious of the account name Olawole Israel Oluwaseun Falope. I ran a search on Google, and then discovered it was all scam.
“Immediately, I reported the incident to Instagram and that account was blocked and later suspended to prevent others from falling victim.”
Another victim, who preferred anonymity, explained how he paid N100, 000 into his account to support his bogus fashion outfit.
In his confession, the suspect noted that since he started the fraudulent act about two years ago, he had duped no fewer than 33 men pretending to be a lady on Instagram and that the least amount he received from any of them was N80,000.
He confessed: “When I started, much as I pretended to be a lady on phone, some men on the other side didn’t believe me. I then downloaded an app on Google which transformed my voice into that of a lady whenever I am having conversation.
“I got several pictures of Shayla, a pretty United States-based lady on my profile. Since then, men have been disturbing me and calling to request a date.
“What I do is that I assess people based on their appearance on Instagram, add them and thereafter open up conversations with them before I started bringing up all manners of stories in order to dupe them.
“At a point, I lied to most of them that I had an accident and I lost my ATM. I told them that I need some money. Some of them were generous enough to drop money into my account.
“I lied to them that I was putting up a boutique and saloon at Ikota, VGC and Lekki, and that I needed money to finish setting up.
“I know I made a mistake downloading Shayla’s pictures and used them for fraudulent purposes. I am telling you the truth, those that I have collected money from can’t be more than 33”, he explained.
Investigations, however, revealed that the owner of the profile pictures the suspect used, @Shayla, had complained to Instagram that some Nigerians were using her profile pictures to scam unsuspecting members of the public.
Suspect claims to be friend to Nollywood stars
It was also disclosed that the suspect claimed to be a friend of Toke Makinwa, Tonto Dike, Don Jazzy, Peter Okoye, Toyin Aimakhu, Tee Y Mix, Oristsefemi, Timaya, Sean Tizzle, Dami Adenuga, Ramsey Noah among others.
“I know all of them. I attend lots of shows; I meet them, take photographs with them, even exchange numbers. Like sister Toke Makinwa, Tonto Dike, Uncle Ramsey Noah, these are the kind of celebrities I look up to and I want to be like them”, he stated.
But RRS investigators confirmed that he was following a lot of Nigerian celebrities on Instagram but at press time they could not confirm if any of them had fallen prey to Falope’s antics, as many of his Instagram chats with them got no response.
Confirming the development, the Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Dolapo Badmos, warned Nigerians to be careful on the social media because scammers are on the prowl worldwide.
The suspect has been transferred to State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for further investigations.