According to Report, the end of the road for a five-man one-chance gang finally came on Monday, November 23, 2015 at Iyana-Ipaja area of Lagos State when operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) attached to the state Police Command arrested two members of the gang who specialised in defrauding innocent people who board cabs in the state. The suspects identified as Joy Duru and Maduka who were members of the catch-in-the-air robbery gang, otherwise known as one chance, were arrested after a female passenger victim who boarded their vehicle raised the alarm when she realised she had been swindled of the sum of N300,000.
The unsuspecting victim simply identified as Chizoba boarded the gang’s cab going to Egbeda, unknown to her that they were swindlers. While she was inside the cab, one of the fraudsters, Joy Duru, who pretended to be a passenger introduced herself to Chizoba as a native of Imo State and asked her where she was from. The discussion, according to the police, was meant to subtly put the victim off guard.
Here’s the Victims’s Story
According to Chizoba, ‘’I boarded a cab going to Egbeda after my uncle sent me on an errand to pay some money into a client’s account. I never knew that the vehicle I boarded was filled with fraudsters who pretended to be passengers. One of them (Joy Duru) kept asking me questions about myself; I really didn’t understand what she was up to as she made me believe that the others didn’t understand what she was saying to me in Igbo. All of a sudden, they started talking about one of the passengers with foreign currencies and how to remove charm placed on the money.
They drove the cab to the house of a supposed prophetess at Iyana Ipaja. Initially, I told her that I wasn’t interested but before I knew what was happening, I had given them the N300,000 with me. It was when they started alighting one after the other that I realised that it was a scam so I gripped Joy when she was attempting to alight, and I raised the alarm.”
Here’s the confession from the Suspects
Initially denying the allegation, the 45-year-old mother of seven who identified herself as Joy Duru said, “On the day we were arrested, members of our gang were inside our operational cab en route Egbeda, pretending to be passengers when a real passenger boarded the cab. Immediately she entered the cab, the driver asked the other passengers for their fares. One of our gang members who was inside the cab gave the driver a dollar note, saying she didn’t have naira note.
“The driver and a gang member started asking her where she got the foreign currency in her possession. Pretending to make peace, I quickly paid for her with my hundred naira but they didn’t stop questioning her. While she was explaining to them how she got the foreign currency, I was busy talking to the real passenger, asking her state of origin and then using Igbo language to communicate with her after she told me she was from Imo State and that her name is Chizoba.
“The driver, who was also our member, then told the lady with the foreign currency that she must settle us with some of the dollar notes if she didn’t want us to get the police involved. After much pleading, she said that she stole the money from her boyfriend who had then placed a charm on it and that before she could give us any part of it, the curse placed on the money must be removed first.
“That was what led us to the prayer house of a prophetess at Iyana Ipaja to help us remove the charm on the money. So everyone was asked to contribute money to enable them to buy the necessary things required by the prophetess to remove the charm. Everyone kept saying that they didn’t have money, but that they would go to their banks and get their own money. After convincing the only real passenger inside the cab with Igbo language, she gave us N190,000 and then said she would collect the balance from her bank. So one after the other our members started alighting from the cab with the excuse of going to get money from their banks.
“Chizoba then became suspicious, and held on to my cloth, shouting that I must give her back her money. The alarm attracted policemen on patrol. While I was alighting from the cab, one of my legs was outside as I had opened the door with the cab still moving. The driver did not stop as he wanted to escape, realising that our cover had been blown open. That was how we were arrested.
“Before I was arrested, I was selling okrika (fairly-used clothes) but sometimes I went out with our gang members to hustle. Usually, we shared the money after each operation.”
According to her partner in crime, Maduka who owns the operational vehicle used in swindling people, “I am 45 years old. I am from Imo State and had been doing this business for almost a year before we were caught. I hadn’t made much from it because not all our operations were successful. It’s not something we did every day and we didn’t have regular amount we make; sometimes N5,000 and other times N10,000 or N20,000.
“We don’t use black magic (juju); we just had to tell them about the curse on the money and that a man of God would pray over it. I am not proud of this job; I am doing it because I was swindled too. It was Chigozie and Jonathan (two of the suspects still at large) that introduced me to this business.”