Anyone who comes across Ramoni Raji, on his grey-coloured Nigeria Customs Service uniform and the rank of Deputy Superintendent on his shoulders, would pass him for a real custom officer. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case for the 60-year-old man whose stock-in-trade is to swindle prospective buyers of auctioned goods from the customs.
His dirty deals blew open after operatives of SARS in Lagos got wind of his nefarious activities after he swindled a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Kikelomo Godson of the sum of N7m when she attempted to procure some seized goods from the customs.
SARS operatives used a man who set him up and they ended up in their net. The suspect told Crime Alert during an interview that he took to fraud since 1978 owing to his inability to get engaged in a better means of livelihood.
He said “I have been a fraudster for over 34 years and this is the only job I know how to do. Before I went into fraud, I tried some other jobs but they weren’t providing enough money that will fend for me my family. I started using this Custom uniform last year when I and one Chief Doati decided to form a syndicate that could defraud prospective buyers of auctioned goods. You know lots of people are competing to buy Customs auctioned goods because they are very cheap.
“So, I and Chief Doati thought it wise to swindle prospective buyers. First, I bought a uniform from Customs Training School, Ikeja, and I sewed it at a tailoring shop in my area in Ipaja. Chief Doati’s job was to get our victims. He will tell them that he has connections in the Nigeria Customs Service that could help facilitate the easy buying of auctioned goods. Then, he would link them to me.
“All I needed to do was to take them to a warehouse in any of the Ports and also at the Federal Operations Unit in Ikeja. I will then show them goods and if they indicate interest, I would give them prices for the goods and ask them to pay part of the money so that I can start processing the papers for them in Abuja. My victims usually pay me as fast as they could because I normally tell them that there are other people biding for the goods. I get the money from them and then disappear into thin air. That would be the last they would hear from me.”
When asked the number of his unsuspecting victims, the suspect kept mute refusing to divulge names of people he has duped, but he agreed to have swindled Mrs. Godson of her money but added that he took only N3m from her. “She came to me last August at Apapa Warf and asked if I could help her buy auctioned goods from the Customs. I told her that the Customs wanted to sell two trailer loads of rice that was impounded from an importer…
“But last week, I got a call from one of my scouts who usually get customer for me and he said some people were looking for textile materials seized by the customs and asked if I can help them get it for them. So I agreed to meet with him. I didn’t know it was a set up. I met with the party and told them to pay N5m for the goods and they gave me a First Bank Cheque for N5m. I was arrested by the police who were waiting for me at the banking premises.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Godson who spoke with Crime Alert on the phone over the incident said she has been hospitalized since the incident occurred. She also said she borrowed some of the money Raji took from her.
“They opened their gate for him and he walked around the premises like a genuine officer. After getting the prices, I then contacted one of my business partners in Port-Harcourt to lend me N4 million so that I would pay for the goods pending when Raji would process the papers. And the man brought the money for me. I even went to pick the man from the airport with him and he gave a cheque of N4 m. After he got the money, he disappeared. He stopped picking my calls and I made several efforts to see him but I couldn’t. I fell sick over the lose and the man who provided the money for the business have been on my neck ever since.”
From what Olufamous.com gathered from sources, Mr. Raji will appear in court soon.