May 24, 2024

Axelle Mahieu, an educator who works as a care giver in Brussels, Belgium, was surfing through her Facebook page after returning from work one evening in November 2021 when she saw that someone had sent her a message.

The message was from Ume Ifechukwu Clinton, a 29-year-old Nigerian who introduced himself as “a friend of a friend”.

As they continued chatting in the following days, Ume also told Mahieu that he was an official of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Several months after, the Belgian now wishes she never responded to the Nigerian. Her reason? Ume ended up defrauding her of €45,000.

MAHIEU’S INITIAL ENCOUNTERS WITH UME

While speaking to FIJ, Mahieu said she had no inkling that Ume was not who he told her he was.

“I met Ume on Facebook after he told me we knew each other from another friend of his. We later became friends and he regularly chatted me up via Messenger. This was towards the end of last year,” she told FIJ.

He would even make a video call to me at times, and I was beginning to believe we were close, as he would sometimes show me his mom. He would also send me his pictures, his international passport and other little information about him while we were chatting.

“He said he worked for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and even sent me a video of his EFCC badge. I thought it was all real.”

THE CRYPTOCURRENCY BUSINESS PITCH

After gaining Mahieu’s trust, Ume proposed a cryptocurrency and NFTs business to her, assuring her of huge profit and a secured capital. He also assured her that no loss would be incurred because he would use his office as an EFCC official to protect her investment.

“At a point, he suggested I invest in crypto, which I didn’t know much about, and told me he would help me with it. My first transaction with him started around December ending. I usually sent him the money through Binance,” Mahieu said.

He kept advising me to keep investing, even when I had not seen my profits yet. Despite always saying a subsequent payment would be my last, he kept on coming back to ask me to send more money. He did this several times to me.”

YOU PROBABLY THINK I’M STUPID, RIGHT?

While recounting her experience to FIJ, the Belgian suddenly asked a rhetorical question with a sad smile on her face.

“You probably think I’m stupid, right?” She asked.

I began to suspect something was fishy when I found out that his friend, our mutual friend on Facebook, uses an unreal picture. So, I became suspicious, and stopped sending him money. When I asked him for my money, he blocked me and deleted his Facebook profile. He also subsequently stopped responding to my chats on WhatsApp.

Normally, I’m a clever person. Or, I thought I was. He would do a video chat and seem so real. He seemed very real.

I’m still not good from this and I don’t think I can ever recover or trust anyone again. I am having so much problem from all this and it’s making me so stressed right now. I just need my money back. It’s all I have.”

CLINTON’S RESPONSE TO FIJ

When FIJ spoke with Ume, he denied ever receiving any money from Mahieu. While sounding cautious and overly defensive, he admitted knowing the Belgian.
Yes, I know Mahieu, but just on Facebook. Collect money? Me? How? Money for what? Abeg o, it’s not me o,” Ume said.

“My Facebook has been hacked for like two or three months. She didn’t send any money to me o. What are we doing that she would send money to me?”

When FIJ asked if he could assist with his Facebook name, he gave an angry response.

“Who are you? I don’t understand. Why are you asking these questions? Why are you even calling me? I don’t have time for all these. I’ve left the Facebook for you people. You people should not disturb me. I don’t have money to give anybody,” he said and hung the phone.

FIJ called Ume the second time to ask about his connection to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He picked up and replied, “Which EFCC? Why will I work with the EFCC?”

UME CALLS BACK AFTER HANGING UP TWICE

After hanging up twice, Ume called back to say he was willing to have a conversation. He also said he was interested in knowing what FIJ had against him.

I don’t know who put you guys up to this because this is not the first time. I misplaced my phone. No, it was stolen. My phone was hacked, including my bank account,” he said.

When the reporter questioned him about his identity card and passport, he exclaimed, “Jesus!”

“I don’t have any idea about any ID card. I don’t even know where the EFCC office is. Why would I have an EFCC ID card? Is that not a scam?
” He asked.

When he was asked about who he thought had his passport and could be responsible for going the extra mile to frame him for a crime he claimed he did not commit, he said he had no idea.

“I don’t know what you are talking about. I’ve never had a detailed conversation with Mahieu,” he said.

When asked if he had a twin brother with the same name and face, Ume replied in the negative.

UME CLAIMS HIS FACEBOOK PAGE WAS HACKED

As the conversation continued, Ume claimed his Facebook page was hacked.

This is like the third person calling me. I even put out a message via my brother’s Facebook that my account was hacked two weeks after I was hacked. The account was hacked around May/June,” he said.

When asked how he thought the Belgian could have been in possession of his ID cards and international passport, Ume said:

I’ve had conversations with people because I was trying to travel out, and I sent my details to some people. The reason the passport photographs in the different means of identification were different was I’d tried to travel at different points in time,” he said.

Ume, who stalled when thinking of appropriate answers to give to questions, insisted he didn’t know anything about the allegation made by the Belgian.

In the end, he requested that he be sent the evidence the Belgian had via WhatsApp.

INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT ‘STOLEN AND LOST’

When the videos supplied by Mahieu were sent to Ume, he admitted that the international passport in one was his. He, however, said that it had been stolen.

This is all crazy; I lost this passport in 2019. I have a new one with my NIN on it. That passport photograph was taken when I was in Lagos. Whoever is doing this knows me from five years ago. Look at the drawer; he also has my old passport or another fake passport,” Ume said.

Regarding how his personal details were known, he said he had misplaced his phone at different points in time and someone was blackmailing him.

I have had different phones stolen at different times. But the most recent is in May. Because the idiot that stole my phone then was threatening to release my wife’s private pictures and kept on blackmailing me, I don’t have the number anymore,” he said.

I am speaking to my lawyer friend. He wants to know who you guys are. I looked up your company and it seems legit. I am willing to work with you guys to end this, but the moment you ask for money, I will have to believe my friends who think you are in on the whole scam happening and want money.

After the short conversation with Ume via Whatsapp, he blocked this reporter on WhatsApp.

FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS

FIJ found out that Ume has a brother named Donald Chisom Ume. Donald, 24, was sentenced to jail on August 17, 2019, for having sex with a 2-year-old baby in Ajao Estate, Lagos.

According to P.M. Express, Donald was sent to jail after he was caught defiling his neighbour’s two-year-old daughter.

FIJ also found out that Clinton indeed deleted his former Facebook profile. However, he operated a Twitter handle with the username @ClintDEsync. FIJ linked the handle to his his full name and account number.

A series of tweets of him donating and doing giveaways online were also found.

FIJ made a few screenshots of his tweets before he locked his Twitter account on suspicion that he had been found out.

All efforts to reach him have been futile since then, as he stopped entertaining calls.

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