A Nigerian man allegedly part of an international criminal network in which women are befriended on Facebook and promised lavish gifts and jewellery was on Wednesday charged with obtaining monies by false pretence.
Uche Raymond Okoye, also known as Uche Parker, appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates' Courts, where he was slapped with 11 charges. He was not required to enter a plea after the charges were read to him by Magistrate Leron Daly.
According to the charges, between October and November 2020, at Georgetown, with intent to defraud, he obtained $6,059,900 from Suruj Dei Balkaran and $50,000 from another woman by falsely claiming that he had packages intended for them, Inewsguyana reports.
The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) Prosecutor told the court that the man allegedly solicited the women's funds after he befriended them on Facebook under an alias name.
During that time, he informed them about the supposed packages containing the latest gadgets and electronic devices. He reportedly told the women that he would be sending the items and that they would need to contact a representative who would clear the packages and deliver them.
The representative he refers to is himself, the SOCU prosecutor added. According to the prosecutor, the Nigerian national sent the women a Whatsapp number to be contacted about the transactions.
It is alleged that the women paid the monies expecting the packages, but every time Balkarran was told of some complications, he was instructed to send more cash via bank transfers and Western Union. She reportedly sent money on ten separate occasions.
Last November, Okoye appeared at a city court and pleaded not guilty to two counts of obtaining money by false pretence, one count of demanding money by menace, and one count of illegal entry into Guyana.
According to the Guyana Police Force, Okoye entered Guyana from Brazil without presenting himself to the nearest immigration officer.
The police said that he is part of a criminal network operating in Guyana, which has links to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay, and other countries.
According to the police, the perpetrators would send a Facebook friend request to the intended victims, particularly women, and seek communication via WhatsApp. Police informed that the mastermind, who is residing overseas, would express a romantic interest in the women and later tell them he would be sending gifts and jewellery.
The women would later receive a call from someone purporting to be employed at a shipping company about a box arriving at the airport for them. At this point, the police said that the women would be instructed to pay various sums of money to several individuals to uplift the boxes and avoid prosecution.
These monies are sent to identified persons through money transfer services or a post office. But once the money is sent, the mastermind is never heard from again, and the victim never receives the packages.
The Guyana Police Force has alerted citizens, particularly women, about this scam.