A twenty-three-year-old daughter of a pastor, Akinnowonu Damilola Victoria has been arrested by the police in Niger State for defrauding several people, mostly her church members, of several millions of naira through her online business.
Damilola whose business name is ‘BIMs Collections’, had told her victims who are mostly youths from her dad’s pentecostal church that she imports “everything”, with a business partner whom, it was gathered, resides in Lagos while she stays in Minna, with her pastor parents and other siblings.
Her business partner who remained elusive while the business lasted supplied Damilola with all kinds of goods ranging from clothing materials, mostly already made, to household utensils and consumables, locally made and imported, at cheaper rate compared to the market prices, which hoodwinked her victims.
Trouble however started after the last payment for “goods” running into several millions of Naira by customers whose number kept rising by the day, but the goods which her business partner informed her was already cleared by Customs did not arrive.
After waiting for the goods to arrive Minna without success, coupled with series of complaints by customers who were demanding refund of their monies, Damilola, it was learnt, decided to trace her business partner to Lagos but the trip yielded no desired result as the man was nowhere to be found.
Back to Minna, Damilola could not offer any tangible explanations to her customers about monies paid into her account or the goods paid for.
This prompted some of the customers to besiege her house demanding for a refund, and when the money was not forthcoming, they sought the intervention of the police.
One of her victims, Evelyn (not real name), who lost N10 million to Damilola, recalled how she was lured into the business by her younger brother because of the mouth-watering offer of buying goods at cheaper rates and making quick profit, an offer she could also not resist.
Evelyn who said she ran away from Abuja, her base, to join her parents in Minna because she could no longer withstand disturbances and threats from customers waiting for their paid goods to be delivered to them, said she never suspected Damilola because “she looks very gentle, harmless, and prays always”.
Damilola, now a guest of the Nigerian police, is said to have once gave testimony in their church about how God intervened and ensured that Nigerian Customs released her goods, displaying pseudo pictures of cleared goods purportedly sent to her by her business partner who is now on the run after hundreds of millions of Naira had been paid into his account.
“My brother told me that the business is legit, she organises prayer cells for the youths in the church as a member of the youth fellowship.
“She once gave testimony showing pictures of her cleared goods by the Customs as sent to her by the business partner,” Evelyn said, adding that she got many customers from parts of the country who are now looking for her to recover monies paid into her account which she had also transferred into Damilola’s account.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Niger State Command, Abiodun A. Wasiu, who confirmed the incident, said: “A case of cheating, criminal breach of trust, and internet related offenses involving one Akinnowonu Damilola, aged 23 years, of Tunga, Minna, was referred to the command.”
The suspect, according to the PPRO, claimed to have been operating an online business about a year ago, via a link she discovered on Facebook, by showcasing items such as female clothing, bags, shoes, phones and laptops.
“Through this act, she was able to gather many customers online who usually placed orders for such items, and due to her customers’ complaints about prices, she took some orders at low rate and sometimes used the proceeds to supply other customers.”
She consequently piled up orders she could not meet up for other transactions, the PPRO said, adding however that preliminary investigations revealed that Damilola deceived her victims by claiming that her goods were seized by the Customs.
The police also discovered that Damilola rented two warehouses, one located at Tunga and the other at Kpakungu areas of Minna, with the sum of over two million Naira which she allegedly used in deepening her fraudulent escapades.
Damilola, according to the PPRO, also confessed that by her rough estimates, she was owing over one hundred customers up to the tune of roughly N150 million, and presently about 72 of her victims had surfaced at the state CID Minna to give statements on their transactions with the suspect.