Two Nigerians, Salestine Baneme, 32, and Lona Thomas, 32, have been arrested in the Indian city of Ahmedabad by officials.
Both happen to be residents of Malavianagar of New Delhi and were arrested for blackmailing two women registered on a matrimonial website to pay them a huge sum of money.
The accused had threatened the women that they would morph their pictures and make them go viral on the social media.
The officials said it was a tough job for them to locate the two Nigerian nationals in a densely populated area of Malalvianagar.
”We posed as salesmen from a telecom company and moved in Malvianagar on the pretext of improving the signal strength of the service provider,” said a crime branch official.
A working woman, registered on a matrimonial site, got a friend request from Salestine Baneme, who had created a fake profile by the name of Raju Williams on the same site.
The woman, Kavita, accepted his friend request and then the two started chatting on various social media platforms.
Joint commissioner of police, crime branch, J K Bhatt said that the accused sent a marriage proposal to Kavita which she readily accepted.
“The accused told her that he was working as an engineer in Manchester in the UK and was to go on a three-week trip to Canada. He was to come to India from Canada,” said Bhatt.
Meanwhile, the accused asked Kavita to send her personal pictures to him. “Kavita refused first, but as the accused convinced her that he was her future husband, she agreed and sent him her two pictures,” added Bhatt.
The suspects were said to have created 1,900,000 email IDs on which they used to communicate with their targets.
Not only that, they had about 40 accounts in various banks across the country in which they used to lure their victims to deposit money.
The crime branch officials said most of the email IDs were created through automation mail ID generation.
“The fraudsters used to abandon a mail ID once they targeted their victims and start using the other ones. According to our research, the gang has cheated or attempted to cheat about 1,000 victims in Gujarat alone,” said a crime branch official.
The fraudsters had created such mail IDs that resembled government mail IDs so that the victims easily got convinced and fell into their net.
“The gang used various modus operandi like lottery, charity deposits and lucky number gift money allotments to dupe people,” the official said.
The officials are gathering details of the 40 bank accounts that the suspects were using.
“The accounts were opened in different names and the account holders used to get commission on the deposits made to their accounts. Both the accused had come to India in 2011 on a business visa and since then used to stay in Delhi,” said the official.