Trans-Atlantic love costs American lady $50,000 … Duped by Nigerian fraudster
By JULIANA FRANCIS
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Photo: THE SUN PUBLISHING
Mores Stories on This Section
A 42-year-old American lady, who came to Nigeria from Texas, United States, with her wedding accessories to tie the nuptial knot with a supposed male American Muslim she met on the internet has gone back home heartbroken.
This followed the discovery that the man she had travelled to Africa to be joined to in wedlock was not the one in the photograph sent to her, but a 24-year-old Nigerian posing as an expatriate engineer, working in an oil company.
The victim, Thumbelina Henshaw, a Muslim, did not only lose her heart to the fraudster but also lost more than 50,000 dollars, as well as several gift items she had been sending to the con man through courier services.
When Henshaw met the fraudster identified as Abdulakeem Yekini, rather than yell at him for fooling her, she was said to have calmly handed him a copy of the Holy Quran and told him to seek Allah’s forgiveness. Already, Yekini has become a guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
One of the precious things Henshaw salvaged from the relationship was a 20,000 dollars worth of jewelry she brought to Nigeria. She had initially planned to present it to her heart-throb and his Muslim brothers to sell and then add the proceeds to the funds for the wedding preparation.
Daily Sun gathered that Yekini allegedly found Henshaw, a nurse, on a website for singles and began to chat her up.
Within a few days of chatting, Yekini knew the lady was a dedicated Muslim and decided to use her religion to ensnare her. He told her he was a staunch Muslim named William Phillips, an American, working in an oil company in Nigeria.
Yekini further told Henshaw that he has two children, named Hakim and Jane. Pretending to be Phillips, he also said his wife died in an automobile accident. The fraudster finally hoodwinked her when he told Henshaw he loved her and was looking for a dedicated Muslim wife, who would be a mother to his children.
When Henshaw asked him to send his picture, Yekini downloaded a white man’s picture from the internet and forwarded it to her. The chatting, which started in June 2005, snowballed into talks about marriage.
In the course of the discussions, Yekini told the lovesick woman that the mosque he attends in Nigeria needed renovation and that good Muslims were contributing funds towards the repairs. He also introduced her to the Imam at the non-existent mosque. But operatives of the EFCC believe that Yekini was also the person posing as Imam and chatting with Henshaw on the internet. When Yekini told Henshaw that the mosque was where they would get married when she comes to Nigeria, she immediately sent him 1,500 dollars. After sending the first dollars, Henshaw continued sending more money whenever Yekini told her about any Muslim project. Aside from the money, she never relented in sending valuable items.
To further fool her into believing his lies, Yekini said he would be coming home to America. Trying to assist him in reducing cost, Henshaw sent a return ticket to Nigeria for him at N1,700 dollars, but he never showed up. When Henshaw said she would like to come to Nigeria for the wedding as agreed, Yekini asked for postponement of the ceremony, claiming he needed urgently to go to Liberia for a job.
After two postponements of the wedding, Henshaw felt it was better to just come to Nigeria herself for the wedding. She went shopping. She called the Imam and told him she was coming to Nigeria.
She met another Muslim on the flight to Nigeria and became friendly with him. She told him her story and he hinted her that she could be dealing with fraudsters. They had contacted EFCC, which agreed to set a trap for the fraudster.
Having arrived Nigeria, December 2, 2005, she called Yekini and asked him to come to a hotel in Ikeja. A trap was set for Yekini, who came, thinking he could still deceive the woman.
When it dawned on him that he had walked into a trap, he tried to jump a fence, but EFCC operatives caught him. Recovered from him was a cellular phone that Henshaw identified as one of the items she sent to the supposed American, called William Phillips.
The EFCC spokesman, Mr Osita Nwajah, told Daily Sun that the suspect would soon be charged to court.
He said: “We are sure to get a clean conviction