A Nigerian ‘mega-scammer’ currently serving a 24-year sentence for online fraud has struck again, allegedly pulling off a million dollar (£773,000) scam from his prison cell after smuggling in an internet-connected device.
Convicted fraudster Hope Olusegun Aroke, who was a Malaysian-based student at the time of his first crime, was arrested on fraud charges in 2012 and is currently serving a 24-year sentence Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos, Nigeria.
But Anti-corruption officials have now revealed that Aroke utilised a ‘network of accomplices’ to carry out further crimes from within the confines of his cell after a preliminary investigation found that he still had access to the internet.
Aroke was recently admitted to the Nigeria Police Hospital in Lagos with an ‘undisclosed ailment’, where he was also allowed to meet his wife and children, stay in several hotels and engage in a number of social events.
It is believed that it is here that he came to be in possession of an internet-connected mobile device, which allowed him to continue to ‘ply his ignoble trade’ according to officials.
In a statement on Tuesday, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said: “Preliminary investigation revealed that the convict, against established standard practice, had access to internet and mobile phone in the correctional centre where he is supposed to be serving his jail term.
“The circumstance of his admission into the hospital and those who aided his movement from the hospital to hotels and other social engagements is already being investigated.”
Using a fake name, Akinwunmi Sorinmade, the fraudster opened two bank accounts which he used to buy a luxury car and homes while in prison, said the commission.
The report also mentioned that: “[Aroke was] in possession of his wife’s bank account token in prison, which he used to freely transfer funds.”
The prisoner has been identified by officials as an ‘arrow head of an intricate web of internet fraud schemes that traverse two continents’.
In Nigeria it is widely suspected that Aroke managed to pay off correctional officers in order to gain access to the internet- many Nigerian police officers are poorly paid and are frequently susceptible to bribes.
The Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison is managed by the Nigerian Correctional Service, which has not yet commented on the case.