Northeast Today

A syndicate of serial fraudsters led by an old man who for years has been scamming persons searching for accommodation in Accra has finally been arrested.

The syndicate, that posts pictures of rooms and apartments online to court unsuspecting victims, will usually bolt after taking payment and issuing fake receipts.

According to Derek Ofori-Akyea, who helped in the arrest of the ringleader of the syndicate, the fraudsters will usually identify a place and take the victim for a tour after which they demand payment if the renter intends to move in quickly.

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Read the full account of the arrest by Derek Ofori-Akyea below:

Let me share an experience from Friday which may also serve as a caution to many of us who may fall victim to these guys and some others out there.

On Friday a friend asked that I accompany him to pick up an agent who had called him earlier that he’s found an apartment that may interest him. My friend has been actually been looking for a new place.

This agent had earlier sent images of the apartment and the rooms to my friend and quoting an amount as the rent for a full furnished room and unfurnished. Fortunately for my friend on his way to work he came across the same apartment which had infront of it a contact number.

He took the number, thinking, “why go through an agent when I can contact owner directly?” He called the number only to know the amount mentioned to him earlier by the agent wasn’t the same. He tells me he was a bit confused as the gentleman added that, he was the manager and that they had not given out the place to anyone as an agent but all interested persons are to come to them directly.

The manager then mentioned to him that, if he was certain it was the same building as the pictures sent him then he should ask the agent to bring him to the house. He added that there had been similar fraud incident and that he needed to be cautious. This is why my friend called that I accompany him (to have a second person with him).

We picked up the agent and went to the apartment (In fact it was the same place). The manager which he called again before we picked up this agent told my friend, to text him when we get there and that he was also on his way there but won’t be there with his car but with a friend because he wants to know if any of these agents are working with any of his staff at the premises.

At the apartment the agent took us to the fully furnished room where we met another person (an elderly man) who claimed to be the property owner. After taking us round the place and offering us a seat in the hall for further discussions, my friend asked that they excuse us for five mins so we make a quick decision outside. Prior to this, the elderly man had assured us that, we could move in the next morning should he pay asap or in the morning.

It was when we stepped out that we saw two men walk into the compound and one directing the security to lock all the gates asap. Then he mentioned my friends name and he responded, so he knew we were the guys looking for the place to rent.

Fast forward all the drama that took place, these two guys were arrested, the old man actually jumped from the 1st floor to the ground and tried climbing the fence to run but we caught him.

Things we found upon searching and interrogating them as we waited for the owner of the property (who the manger called) and the Ghana police.

1. 3 ID cards (voters, driver license and Ghana card) with the elderly man’s picture bearing three different names.

2. 2 official receipt books, 1 was full ie receipt issued out to people (presumably others who had been scammed) amount ranging between 24k to 50k for rent of apartment (as captured on the receipt). The second book had only 1 leaflet taken out, receipt to one Mr. Antony, an amount of 60k for rent issued on 29th May 2022.

3. Checks from the fake receipt books indicates 51 persons who been victims. They have been successful in bolting with the money of 51 innocent people who just wanted a place to live.

4. A car with fake number plate as a check on the number doesn’t match the car.

5. They confessed to us the car was rented and that they came with taxi too (which had 2 other guys in it) packed infront of the house. So had we handed them the cash they would have issued us a fake receipt, left the rented car and bolted out with the taxi.

6. The fraudsters had actually visited the premises the week before under the pretense of looking for a place to rent and they took pictures of the place.

7. Came back on the Friday under the pretense of taking another look as they wanted to rent the place for some employees of their company and wanted to be sure if we liked it. (So we were the employees)

The owner finally came, the police also arrived and we took these two guys to the police station and wrote our statements.

Be warned! There are lots of guys like these out there, some are old and young and innocent, their looks may just deceive you but be warned when buying or renting. Do proper checks yourself before you get scammed by such people.

Take care everyone!