Says, money diverted to pay debts owed by her jailed husbandA 34-year-old mother of four has broken records in Lagos where she has successfully defrauded 110 intending tenants of N14 million using her 11-room apartment as a bait.
The suspect, Taibat Haruna, who lives at NEPA Quarters, Iyana Ira along the Badagry expressway, set out for the scam by adopting a false name, Oluwakemi Ajayi. Sometime in February this year, she started the construction of two buildings, one at Alimi Street, Ira Quarters, Ojo and another one at Esa Square off Olojo Drive, Ojo.
For the building at Alimi street, which has five rooms and still under construction, she has collected rents from 75 prospective tenants, while she collected rents from 35 people for the building at Esa Square, which is a three-room and parlour self-contained apartment, meant for three tenants.
When both buildings had been roofed, she sent messages to some estate agents to get tenants for the buildings and equally on her own was collecting money from people for the apartments using her false name, Oluwakemi Ajayi for all the transactions.
While trying to rationalize the scam, she told Saturday Sun that she started the building projects with her money but when she ran short of funds, there was nothing she could do other than to raise money from prospective tenants to complete them.
“I started the buildings with little money and when I couldn’t complete them, I started collecting money from tenants with the intention of paying them back after the completion of the projects”, she disclosed.
She collected various sums of money depending on the type of accommodation being sought.
“I collected between N70, 000 and N400, 000; the minimum was N70, 000, while the maximum was N400, 000. Some paid N90, 000; N120,000; N200,000; N240,000; N280, 000; N320,000 as the case may be”, she added.
On what she did with the money since what she collected was enough to start the buildings from the scratch to completion, she said she and her husband “used the money to offset some debts hanging on our necks”
Saturday Sun investigation revealed that her husband, Kabiru Haruna is in Kirikiri prison custody for receiving over five stolen vehicles. Some of the money Taibat collected was channelled into buying stolen posh cars and taking care of the problem when the bubble burst over the stolen cars.
Over 10 estate agents were involved in the scam.
However, each of the agents didn’t know that the other one was also involved.
Her strategy was never to give appointment for two people at the same time.
On how she escaped from the tenants, Taibat said that she decided to run way when the heat from the would-be tenants was becoming unbearable.
“When the people were coming for the apartments they paid for, I ran away from our home to my mother in-law’s house at Iyana Ejigbo, where I was hiding until the police from Ojo arrested me.”
However, one of the victims, Chinedu, who said he paid her N280, 000 for a self-contained room and parlour apartment for two years upfront, told Saturday Sun that the woman N120,00 per annum for each apartment and she collected for two years in advance, bringing the total to N240,000 with an addition of N40,000 as agreement fee, which totalled N280,000. He said it was the pressure mounted by his landlord to vacate his house that led him into the mess and wondered how he was going to get such money again.
According to him, “another tenant who was having accommodation problem came to her, she opened one of the rooms, he went and bought tiles and laid the tiles and then moved in some electronics – wall plasma TV, DVD, home theatre etc, which were stolen before the next day by the landlady. She denied this, but said it was her brother in-law that stole them.”
Saturday Sun findings also reveal- ed that the tenants got to know what had befallen them when they all gathered at the different buildings following a text message sent by Taibat.
She had around 2am on a Sunday sent text messages to all the people she collected money from in respect of the buildings, telling them to come for prayers as a prelude to handing over the house keys to them. It was at that same day that she went into hiding at her mother in-law’s place.
Each of the prospective tenants that came to collect his or her apartment key was surprised to see so many others come for the same thing. It was from there that confusion started. At that point, they all realised they had been duped. As such, one after the other, they dispersed in frustration only to return later with their own padlocks to lock up the entrance door to the house. This explains why one of the pictures published with this report shows several padlocks on one of the doors in the house.
On how she is going to refund the money, Taibat said that she would run around to get money and pay all the people. She didn’t say how she would get the money having spent part of it in settling debts owed by her and her jailed husband.
“I want to pay them back. I will run around to look for money to pay them all”, she assured.
Saturday Sun further gathered that nothing was found in her bank accounts after her arrest by the police.
Following series of complaints by the victims to the Ojo Police Division, the police launched a manhunt for her. Their efforts paid off on Monday, when Taibat after visiting her husband at Kirikiri Prison was going back to Ejigbo and walked into the police dragnet at Mile Two.
Source: Sun News