By Ben Ekezie
Suspected fraudsters have successfully hacked into the account of an old generation bank and transferred the sum of five hundred and twenty-three million, three hundred and thirty-seven thousand and one hundred naira (N523,337,100) to eighteen (18) different customers’ accounts.
The coordinated cyber-attack was carried out during the weekend of Saturday April 23, 2022, through Sunday, April 24, 2022 to the early hours of Monday, April 25, 2022 before business opened.
According to the spokesman of Police Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Eyitayo Johnson, a Superintendent of Police, the fraudster also transferred the stolen money via Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Cash/ATM/POS/Withdrawals and e- transfers before they were tracked down.
He said: “The Legal Section of the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), Ikoyi-Lagos; headed by CSP. E. A. Jackson, was able to obtain an order from the Federal High Court siting in Lagos for the forfeiture of a net sum of five hundred and twenty-three million, three hundred and thirty-seven thousand and one hundred naira (N523,337,100.00) fraudulently transferred by internet fraudsters who hacked a customer’s account and posted the funds into eighteen (18) different accounts in the same Bank before transmitting same to 225 in 22 banks and financial institutions in Nigeria.
“In the course of the investigation, the sum of one hundred and sixty million, two hundred and eighty-seven thousand, seventy-one naira and forty-seven kobo (N160,287,071.47) was recovered from different banks; with two suspects arrested, while operatives are following other leads in order to apprehend the remaining members of the syndicate.”
In another development, Legal Section of the Unit has charged one Sikiru Olawale Olayinka along with his company, Excampo Nigeria Limited to the Federal High Court, Ikoyi-Lagos; for offences bordering on fraudulent conversion and stealing of one hundred and twenty-three thousand dollars ($123,000.00 USD) being money wrongly transferred into his company’s domiciliary account on September 5, 2018.
On receipt of the funds into his account, Sikiru Olayinka Olawale, within hours; quickly visited the bank and transferred out one hundred and twenty thousand dollars ($120,000.00 USD) in two tranches into accounts of his cronies.
The Bank made concerted efforts to recover the funds in order to channel same to the rightful account but Sikiru Olayinka frustrated these efforts and continued to dissipate the money.
Also on Tuesday September 15, 2022, the Unit arraigned one James Abidemi and his company; Diamondsmith De-Great Universal Petroleum Corporation and others at large; before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for the offence of conspiracy and obtaining the sum of three hundred and ninety-six million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, eighty naira (N396,999,080.00) through false pretense, fraudulent conversion and stealing.
The complainant is a Consulting Firm with prime focus in assisting clients to source and render payment services in Foreign Exchange for goods and services around the world.
In furtherance to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Consulting Firm and the suspect, the suspect’s company, Diamondsmith De-Great Universal Petroleum; received the aforesaid sum in tranches, between the 23rd to 28th May, 2022.
The money was meant for the purchase of Six Hundred and Eighty-Eight Thousand United States Dollars ($688,000.00 USD) at an exchange rate of Five Hundred and Seventy-Seven Naira (N577) per US Dollar and was supposed to remit same as Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand US Dollars ($250,000.00 USD), Three Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand US Dollars ($325,000.00 USD), One Hundred Thousand US Dollars ($100,000.00 USD) and Thirteen Thousand Dollars ($13,000.00 USD) to specified beneficiaries in Mainland China and Hong Kong.
According to SP Eyitayo, the suspect provided fake telexes as proof of remittance to foreign business partners of the complainant while the money was actually diverted to another member of the syndicate, a banker based in Ghana who dispersed the funds to several other accomplices.
He said: “Consequently, the Unit has solicited the cooperation of INTERPOL to apprehend the remaining members of the syndicate that are outside Nigeria.
“The Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, CP. Anyasinti Josephine Nneka has advised Banks and Financial Institutions on the need to increase their Cyber-Security Surveillance, conduct routine background checks on staff who have login privileges that could be compromised to make Banks porous to cyber-attacks. She equally enjoins the public on the need to investigate sources of unexpected inflows into their accounts. Where such funds are found to have been wrongly credited, the recipient should cooperate with their Banks and make conscious efforts to reverse/re-route same. Utilizing such funds is a criminal offence.”