Paul Yempe, who passed himself off as a journalist working for the US-based Cable News Network (CNN), succeeded in swindling key officials of the Bayelsa State government.
The fraudster obtained various sums of money running into millions of naira from state officials who were desperate to receive favorable coverage about the state beset by rising insecurity and incessant kidnappings.
Investigations by SaharaReporters revealed that Allison Okuro, the secretary to the Bayelsa government, as well as Martins Fefegha, the state's commissioner of Information, were among the victims who lost money in the fraudulent deal that was recently exposed.
A source said the fake reporter had moved round several government ministries, departments and agencies collecting bribes before his luck ran out.
Our reporter learned that Mr. Okuro, a professor, had offered hotel accommodation to the imposter and had written a memo seeking the release of funds for a phony documentary promised by the fake reporter in addition to advance cash payments to Mr. Yempe.
Contacted to react on his involvement, the Commissioner for Information declined to state the amount of money he had advanced to the fake journalist. He however admitted that there were plans to lodge money into the reporter’s account before the deceptive deal came to limelight.
Mr. Yempe was taken into custody when he approached the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Energy to solicit funds for an interview for a supposed documentary to be aired on CNN.
Police spokesman Alex Akhigbe confirmed the arrest, but said the case was still being investigated. He declined to mention the number of officials fleeced of cash by the fake reporter or to reveal the amount involved.
A reporter in Bayelsa told SaharaReporters that Mr. Yempe is a senior staff of Radio Rivers in Port Harcourt.
CNN could not immediately confirm if it has any connection with the suspected fake reporter.