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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has warned that hotel owners can be charged as accomplices or be jailed for accommodating internet fraudsters also referred to as “Yahoo boys” to use their premises for cybercrime activities.
The EFCC issued the warning in a statement posted via its verified Facebook page on Wednesday. Citing Section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, the EFCC said hoteliers could get a five-year jail term for allowing cybercriminals to use their facilities to perpetrate fraud.
“The hotel owner perhaps is ignorant of the fact that he could become an accomplice and liable for allowing his premises to be used for cybercrime, in contravention of section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.
“The section provides that, a ‘person who, being the occupier or is concerned in the management of any premises, causes or knowingly permits the premises to be used for any purpose which constitutes an offence under this Act is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 5 years without the option of a fine’.
“The commission warns hoteliers from allowing their premises and facilities to become havens for cybercrime.
“Adherence to the rule of law remains a core principle moderating the activities of the EFCC and the Executive Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has repeatedly said the agency under his watch will not deviate from the norm.”
The anti-graft agency said this in reaction to media reports of how its operatives raided a Lagos hotel and violently broke into guests’ rooms.
It was reported that some guests at the hotel were naked when the operatives broke in. The agents were also said to have threatened to shoot the hotel management while demanding the master access cards to the rooms.
Reacting to the reports, however, the EFCC in a statement on Wednesday, said “there was no break-in, no molestation and no violence of any kind during the operation.”
In the statement titled ‘EFCC Operation At Parkitonian Hotel – The True Story,’ the commission said the raid was carried out by its operatives from the Lagos zonal office of the commission, after weeks of surveillance of criminal activities of suspected internet fraudsters in the hotel named Parkitonian Hotel, in the Lekki area of the state.
It said about 30 suspects were arrested with 24 already confessed to their involvement in cybercrimes and related criminal activities.
“In the early hours of Tuesday July 13, 2021 a team of operatives from the Lagos Zonal Office of the Commission, acting on verified intelligence on the activities of a suspected syndicate of internet fraudsters carried out an operation at Parkitonian Hotel in the Lekki area of Lagos.
“During the sting operation which was the culmination of weeks of surveillance during which the rooms occupied by the suspects were identified, 30 suspects were arrested with 24 of them already confessing involvement in cybercrimes and related activities.
“There was no incident as the hotel management served with the relevant warrant offered access to the operatives, to carry out their lawful duties.
“However, in the course of the operation, the operatives encountered women in some of the rooms who pleaded nudity to stop them from arresting their targets. This has lately become the antics of cyber fraudsters who procure ladies to plead nudity as a decoy, to allow their consort destroy incriminating items in their devices before arrest.
“The commission will not fall for such gimmick which is intended to prevent it from carrying out its lawful duties,” the statement read in part.