Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Enugu have arrested Kelechi Vitalis Anozie, a suspected fraudster who has been a person of interest to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since 2019.
In a statement on Thursday, the EFCC said its operatives arrested Anozie on the 10th of March, following an investigative trail of activities not unconnected to fraud and illegal money laundering.
Anozie, who is a self-professed clergyman and four other suspects: Valentine Iro, Ekene Ekechukwu (alias Ogedi Power), Bright Azubuike (alias Bright Bauer Azubuike), and Ifeanyi Junior, is alleged to have defrauded one F.F, who lives in Illinois, United States, the sum of $135,800 and another $47,000.
The suspect, who is the founder of a church called Praying City Church in Owerri, Imo State, was first placed on a watch list in 2019 when the FBI announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs.
The announcement of Anozie’s arrest comes a few days after the EFCC revealed that its operatives arrested one Osondu Igwilo who has been on the watchlist of the FBI since 2018.
EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed this in a statement on Monday, said the suspect was apprehended by operatives of the anti-graft agency in Lagos.
According to him, Igwilo was arrested Thursday last week alongside three others – Okafor Chris, Nwodu Emmanuel, and John Achukwu.
Fifty-two-year-old Igwilo, said to be the alleged leader of a criminal network of ‘catchers’, was arrested at a studio in the Sangotedo area of Lagos for alleged fraud, money laundering, and identity theft to the tune of about $100 million.
“Before their arrest, Igwilo and his accomplices had allegedly been involved in an advance-fee scheme that involved false promises of investment funding by individuals who impersonated some United States of America (USA) bank officials in person and via the internet,” Uwujaren said in the statement.
“Investigation revealed that those who fell victims of the suspects’ criminal activities were asked to make certain payments before they could receive their funding.
“It was also revealed that proceeds of the scheme were allegedly laundered through U.S. bank accounts and diverted back to the alleged perpetrators in Nigeria,” the agency said.
Igwilo, the EFCC spokesman stated, was consequently placed on the FBI watchlist following a criminal complaint filed against him at the U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas in December 2016.
He added that the anti-graft agency’s operatives recovered five houses located in choice areas of Lagos from Igwilo following the arrest. Uwujaren stated that the suspects would soon be charged to court.