Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fake pastors...

Fake pastor dupes foreigner, arrested
Monday, September 17, 2007 - By Andrew Utulu, Reporter, Lagos

A suspected fake pastor, Smith Isong, has been arrested and detained at the Zone 2 Police headquarters, Onikan, Lagos for allegedly duping a foreigner of N3.5 million, using the name of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

The suspect, who operated as Pastor Patrick Mark, was arrested on Thursday at the Ojodu area of Lagos, following a report by authorities of the RCCG’s His Master’s Place Parish in Gbagada that some persons were using the parish’s name to dupe a foreigner.

The suspect was arrested with three other members of his gang.

Investigation revealed that the suspects allegedly duped a white man based in Dubai who operates a charity organisation.

It was gathered that the syndicate stumbled on the man’s address through the internet and requested for his financial assistance, claiming to be representing RCCG, to enable them carry out some charity work in Nigeria.

It was further gathered that payment of over N2 million was made to the syndicate in 2006 and another N3.5 million this year.

The suspects operate two bank accounts, one with a community bank in Akute-Ajuwon and the other in the Magodo area of Isheri, Lagos. It was learnt that the banks became suspicious when Mark started withdrawing money from the accounts, leaving only a balance of N700,000 in the Akute-Ajuwon branch, which had a deposit of over N2 million. The same scenario was also observed at the Magodo bank.

It was at this point the attention of the church was drawn by the two banks to the financial dealings of the suspects.

It was also gathered that based on this, the attention of the Zone 2 police was drawn through a petition from RCCG Headquarters.

The zonal headquarters was said to have detailed undercover policemen to trail the suspected con men who were eventually arrested. They have confessed to being a 419 syndicate.

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