If you haven’t been following the @RoyalAmebo Saga, you should read the first part of this story – How RoyalAmebo Catfished Twitter for some background. Also read Five Possible Signs You’re Being Catfished.
@RoyalAmebo‘s aim was to scam unsuspecting people of their money. Her victims were mostly male, and her MO was simple: she would strike up a friendship with a member of the Twitterati, and then quickly start exchanging flirty direct messages with her mark. At some point in the relationship, she would ask for a small favour. For example, she would need a small payment to be made to someone on her behalf as, for some reason, she couldn’t do it herself. The mark would then pay the money into a designated account and the scam was done. Sometimes, to convince the marks, “Ife” would hold a telephone conversation.
While this was the general template used, the specific situations were varied. For example, one of her alleged victims described his experience thus:
I was recruiting 60 brand ambassadors for a brand promotion in November and she recommended some people. Particularly, she followed up with me on one Wale and pleaded that I should ensure he gets an offer BUT Wale didn’t show up. About a week later, she sent me a DM to please help her send N8,000 to Wale as she claimed she was in SA and would return to UK the following Tuesday.
In another case, money exchanged hands via a bet
I was one of her tweeter friends. She was ready to place a $1,000 bet on Real Madrid on the last El Classico while I was willing to place $500 on FC Barcelona. Two tweeps came into picture during this incident and one was to act as the bookie and pay the winner.
The classic email sent from @RoyalAmebo came from a Gmail account – email@example.com – and looked like this.
Please I’m so sorry about this. Can you help me out on something really urgent. I want to transfer a cash to an house help of mine back in abj but I’m not with my token. Please can you help me out on it. A cash transfer of 10k. I will transfer back as soon as I get back to london pls. XXXX XXX, Acct no:XXXXXX,GT BANK. That’s the details. Let me know if you can help out. Thanks a lot.
Investigations revealed that various phone numbers and accounts with First Bank and GTBank with different names were used in the scam. 13 people have confirmed that they’ve received requests to pay money but no-one is sure exactly how many people were victims of the scam. Only 4 people have come forward; it seems that embarrassment at the content of these direct messages and losing money in this manner will keep a lot of victims hidden.
So who was @RoyalAmebo? We can reveal that the police have received 4 formal complaints against a certain Olawale Joseph Aderibigbe, who is the primary suspect as the mastermind of the scam. Why is Wale the key suspect? One, he was the only person who claimed to have met RoyalAmebo more than once. Two, his name has come up repeatedly as the recipient of money in diverse RoyalAmebo scams. Three, he deleted his Twitter account immediately @femitripp mentioned him in connection with @RoyalAmebo.
Yes, @RoyalAmebo was a man. One cannot begin to imagine the embarrassment some of his marks must feel after sharing salacious direct messages with a person they believed was an attractive woman. Judging by reactions after her “death”, Wale seems to have been fantastic at working up the emotions of his victims. One of her online friends, JJ Omojuwa said of “her”,
My soul is in tatters. I have never felt so much pain. She was my Angel. I never met her but we spoke everyday via my twitter DM. I did more than meet her, I had her in my world everyday. No one in the entire world has expressed as much love to me as Ife. She loved me so much. She treated me like I was as big as Michael Jackson and she said it every time. When the walls of the crowd came at me to take me down, Ife was the one in my DM sharing her strength with me. Ife was my love. Ife was my happiness and she was always there. Ife left me and now I am lost.
Part of Wale’s genius was weaving a complex web between the offline and online worlds. For example, Femi (@femitripp)
and Wale met up with two ladies was supposed to meet up with Wale at the Shoprite Mall. Wale didn’t show up but he ended up meeting two ladies, one of which claimed to be RoyalAmebo. Later on, Wale told Femi that he was going to Abuja for business. “Coincidentally”, RoyalAmebo called Femi to tell him that their mutual friend Wale just entered her Abuja office . Actions like this added legitimacy to the RoyalAmebo character and made it easier to scam their marks. He also met a few of his marks at the #OurNASS protests, where he had this picture taken.
Wale did not work alone. He employed various women to pose as Ife on the phone with his marks. He also used friends’ accounts to receive payments as multiple payments to his account would have drawn unnecessary suspicion.
Who is Wale Aderibigbe? A resident of Surulere, Wale is described by those who met him as “smart and full of ideas”. So what’s next? With a formal complaint made to the police, there will be a formal investigation and they will decide who to charge. In the meantime, if you have any information relating to this scam, please send firstname.lastname@example.org. All info will be treated as confidential.
UPDATE: Wale has reactivated his Twitter account. He now tweets at @walex200ng
CLARIFICATION: Wale has not been formally charged and is only a suspect. He has been named in 4 different police complaints. However, he has not been convicted of any crime.