A phone-stealing criminal syndicate disguising as staff of telecommunication companies is operating in Abuja, latest victims who lost mobile phones have told FIJ.
Claiming to be recruiting young ladies who will dance and distribute fliers in an anniversary campaign for MTN Nigeria for three days and promising payment of between N7000 and N15,000 per day and gifts including data and airtime, one Engineer Mustapha said to have MTN’s identity card made away with victims’ phones when they were distracted.
“We were in the shop when a friend of mine whose sister works at ‘Sweet Princess Salon’ in Lugbe called us that there was a guy looking for dancers and those who would walk around sharing posters and telling people about MTN… that MTN was celebrating its 30th anniversary,” one of the girls who asked not to be named told FIJ.
“So we went for the gig. When we got to the salon, they started painting our faces with green and white and they put the logo of MTN on one side of our faces in preparation for the promotion.
“The guy, Engineer Mustapha, said that at the end of each day, dancers would be paid N15,000 while those distributing fliers would be paid N7,000.”
After makeup was applied on their faces, Mustapha ordered food for the ladies at a restaurant. With the pretext that he was transferring data and airtime to their phones, he escaped with multiple smart phones.
“He ordered for food and drinks and snacks, which he paid for. He then called three of us to go with him to pack the food he ordered from the restaurant. On reaching there, they said the food was not yet ready.
“So we decided to wait for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, he told us he was going back to the salon where other girls were waiting to see how things were going there.
“When we waited at the restaurant and he did not show up, we returned to the salon where they told us that they had not seen him. He had gone with our phones.
“We even thought he went to see his boss because the owner of the salon said that when the guy came, she spoke to his boss on the phone. But he never returned.”
One of the victims said that Mustapha stole seven smart phones, but did not go with feature phones.
“We thought he was sending an app through which he would transfer the data and airtime. Those using small phones, he collected and returned and told them that they would receive a message, but they said that they didn’t see any message,” the victim said.
“We did not see him with a car, but we saw a car key with him.”
In a reply to FIJ’s request for comments, MTN denied involvement in the scheme and advised that persons caught should be reported to security agencies.
“I would like to inform you that we currently do not have such a promotion that is ongoing and MTN is not involved in any of these skimming activities that result in perpetrators making away with phones belonging to unsuspecting individuals,” it stated.