By Lolo Ayaba
Two suspects who have been posing on social media as models recruiting agents, luring young models to hotels and bars and dispossessing them of money and personal belonging, have been arrested by the operatives of Rapid Response Squad.
The suspects, Stanley Odachi, 27 and Chuks Oragwu, 31 were arrested while attempting to lure another victim to an hotel in Igando, Alimosho, Lagos.
As at the time of their arrest on Wednesday, about 5 girls have registered their complaints with the Decoy Team of the Rapid Response Squad that the suspects absconded with their mobile phones and money under the pretext of registering them for modelling jobs.
About 4 other young models refused to press charges. Two other victims stated that they were having examination in school and couldnt make formal complaint.
All the models who are still in and out of school stated that they encountered the suspects on Instagram through the advertisements on their handles requesting young models to enlist with their agency for modelling contract.
The victims added that they were subsequently asked to report at hotels, where they were made to surrender their mobile phones, which the suspects escaped with.
According to one of the victims identified as Betty, said she saw an advertisement on benitamodellers, an Instagram handle managed by Chuks Oragwu, requesting for models to register with them for a contract.
“I sent friend request to him. We got chatting. Eventually, my friend and I were asked to show up at a shopping complex opposite International Trade Fair Complex, Lagos – Badagry Expressway. We were four girls in attendance.
This one, pointing to Oragwu, conned us into surrendering our mobile phones after making us to fill a form and our measurement taken. He took pictures of each of us with our phones. He told us he was taking the photos to his boss upstairs. That was the last we saw of him”.
Another victim, an undergraduate of a prominent private university based in Ibadan, who could not visit Lagos because of her classes stated that, apart from her iPhone, the two suspects, who acted as manager and personal assistant collected N50,000 from her when she visited them at their hotel in Igando, Lagos.
Confirming the allegations levelled against them, Stanley Odachi, the leader of the gang stated that he opened an Instagram account boldandbeautiful sometime in 2018 to attract young models. “I created an advertisement on it setting age limits. With time, I started receiving friendship request from young models seeking contracts.
I engaged them through the handle. I gave them my phone contact and we would arrange meetings with them. I use big shopping complexes, bars and restaurants and hotels as our meeting venues. Most of our meeting venues are around Ojo, Igando and Ajegunle”.
“When the victims are gathered, we made them fill forms. We measure them and persuade them into surrendering their phones for us to take their pictures so that we can show our bosses. At times, we may be unlucky that some of them would decline to release their mobile phones for us.
Apparently, our targets are their mobile phones. For those that would release, we take it upstairs and from their we flee”, he added.
“When my Instagram handle was blocked, I teamed up with Chuks Oragwu, who acted as my Personal Assistant whenever it was my deal and we interchanged roles whenever it was his job. He has his own Instagram handle, benitamodellers, which has not been blocked.
We sell our phone to Emeka Mmegwa, who sell them to people at the Alaba International Market. We don’t normally request for money except on few instances”, he stated.
Commenting on the development, the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu advised Lagosians to be cautious about the kind of business transactions they engage in on social media, especially with strangers and unconfirmed sources. He added that Lagos won’t be a breeding ground for criminals.
The two suspects along with their receiver have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for further investigations and prosecution.