The fake model agents
According to a report by Punch Metro, two suspected fake model recruitment agents, Stanley Odachi and Chuks Oragwu, have been arrested for allegedly luring young girls to hotels and bars, and dispossessing them of their money and property.
It was learnt that the modus operandi of the suspects was to pose on the social media as model recruitment agents to lure teenage girls aspiring to become models.
It was gathered that after luring the victims to appointed venues, the suspects would collect their phones on the pretext of taking their pictures, which would be shown to their boss, and they would later disappear with the phones.
Punch Metro reports that the suspects were arrested by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad while luring another victim to a hotel in the Igando area of Lagos State.
It was learnt that as of the time of the suspects’ arrest, about five girls had reported to the police that the suspects absconded with their phones and money on the pretext of registering them for modelling jobs.
The victims, in their statements to the police, stated that they met the suspects on Instagram through which they requested young models to enlist with their agency for modelling contracts.
One of the victims, identified simply as Betty, told the police that she saw an advertisement on Oragwu’s Instagram handle, @Benitamodellers, requesting models to register for a contract.
She said, “I sent a friend request to him. We got chatting. Eventually, my friend and I were asked to show up at a shopping complex opposite the International Trade Fair Complex, Lagos-Badagry Expressway. We were four girls in attendance.
“When we got there, Oragwu conned us into surrendering our mobile phones after making us fill a form and taking our measurements. He took pictures of each of us with our phones. He told us he was taking the photos to his boss upstairs and that was the last time we saw him.”
Another victim, who is an undergraduate of a private university, also told the police that the suspects, who acted as the manager and personal assistant to the manager of the agency, collected N50,000 and an iPhone from her when she visited them at a hotel in Igando.
The leader of the gang, Odachi, in his statement to the police, said he opened an Instagram account, @boldandbeautiful, sometime in 2018 to attract young models.
He stated, “I created an advertisement on the page requesting young models within an age limit. With time, I started getting followership from young models seeking contracts. I engaged them through the handle. I gave them my phone contact and we would arrange meetings with them. I use big shopping complexes, bars, restaurants and hotels as our meeting venues. Most of our meeting venues were around Ojo, Igando and Ajegunle.
“When the victims were gathered, we made them fill forms. We measured them and persuaded them to surrender their phones to us to take their pictures so that we could show our boss. At times, we might be unlucky that some of them would decline to release their mobile phones to us.
“Apparently, our targets were their mobile phones. For those who would release them, we used to take the phones upstairs and from there we would flee.
“When my Instagram handle was blocked, I teamed up with Oragwu, who acted as my personal assistant whenever it was my deal and we interchanged roles whenever it was his deal. He has his own Instagram handle, @benitamodellers, which has not been blocked.
“We sell the phones to one Emeka Mmegwa, who resells them at the Alaba International Market. We don’t normally request money except on a few instances.”
It was learnt that the suspects had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for further investigation and prosecution.
Reacting to the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, urged residents to be mindful of the kind of business transactions they engage in on the social media, adding that Lagos would not be a breeding ground for criminals.