A Nigerian national accused of defrauding a Bangladeshi university professor of thousands of US dollars to attend a bogus conference in the United States was put on a two-day remand on Friday.
Earlier in the day, police produced him before the court with a seven-day remand prayer.
Donatus Emeka Onyejiuwa had been in Bangladesh for three months when he was detained by Detective Branch (DB) police at a hotel on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway on Thursday.
He was taken to Sylhet for interrogation and produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Donatus is allegedly part of an international gang which conned Tk4.76 lakh out of Prof Faruque Miah of the genetic engineering department at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), on the pretext of making arrangements to send the academic to a seminar abroad.
“Prof Faruk Miah received an email invitation in February, to a seminar in the USA,” Paritosh Ghosh, additional commissioner of Sylhet Metropolitan Police, told a press briefing on Friday.
He said that a few days later, professor Faruk expressed his interest in attending the seminar by return email. The “organizers” then asked him to send $500 to book a hotel room for 10 days in the USA.
Prof Faruk suggested he could stay with friends in the USA but when this idea was rejected by the fraudsters, he paid the money through Western Union Money Transfer via a contact in Belgium.
“The gang has a bank account in Dinajpur’s Hili,” Gopal Chakraborty, additional deputy commissioner of Sylhet Metropolitan police detective branch, said. “They might have more bank accounts. We are tracking down mobile numbers of the gang.”
On March 1, Professor Faruk got an email saying the US immigration service had confirmed his visa, which would arrive by March 19-21.
He was then asked to send photocopies of his passport plus $160 in visa fees, $95 for insurance fees and $1,399 as a deposit which, he was told, would be refunded at the airport when he returned home from the seminar.
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The items confiscated from arrested Nigerian national Donatus Emeka Onyejiuwa Dhaka Tribune
The fake organizers then asked him to pay $1,800 for a number of other items such as a conference package, visa approval letter, US embassy appointment letter, and air ticket. This money was also refundable, they said.
Prof Faruque sent a total of $3,308 to a bank account in two phases via a friend in Belgium.
On March 27, an African national met Prof Faruque near Shahjalal International Airport. The man loaded a piece of luggage into the professor’s car and asked him to take it to Sylhet. He also asked Prof Faruque to contact the organizers.
After bringing the luggage to Sylhet he found it was a locked box.
The next day, a person identifying himself as a representative of the organizing firm asked the professor to meet him with the box near a hotel in Upashahar of Sylhet city.
Prof Faruque met a Nigerian there who took him to a car and drove him to a school field, where the Nigerian opened the box and showed a machine for making fake dollars. The professor was baffled when the Nigerian produced two $100 bills in front of him.
The professor asked why he should take the machine, and asked for the seminar documents instead. The Nigerian then left him alone in the car and went back to the hotel.
After some time the Nigerian’s mobile number was found switched off. Only then did the professor realize he had been cheated and reported the matter to the police, who arrested him.
A case has been filed with the Shah Paran police station under the Special Powers Act, 1974.