The shocking method used by fraudsters to swindle bank customers has been exposed after Operatives of the Police’ Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) Ikoyi, Lagos State, arrested suspects who are allegedly involved in swindling customers using a sophisticated method. Those arrested include a pastor, 2 MTN employees, 3 bankers, an ICT specialist and others.
The police disclosed that the suspects belong to a syndicate that specializes in defrauding bank customers. With the help of the unscrupulous bankers arrested, the gang are able to get the details of customers with funded account while the 2 MTN staff work to ensure that the victims’ mobile numbers are tampered with in such a way that they do not receive alert that money is being diverted from their account.
The suspects have allegedly defrauded subscribers of over N150 million. The spokesman for the SFU, ASP Lawal Audu paraded the suspects. Chukwunonso Ifeanyi, 30, and Okpetu John, 29, who both confirmed they were MTN employees, were paraded alongside the bankers, Oyelade Shola, 32; Osuolale Hammid, 40; and Akeem Adesina, 33. Others include an ICT specialist, Salako Abdulsalam, 30; a pastor, James Idagu, 56; Sarumi Abubakar; Ismaeel Salami, 49; Akinola Oghuan, 34; and Sunday Okeke, 33, The Guardian reports.
The suspects were arrested in Lagos, Oyo and Kwara states with several Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards belonging to unsuspecting Nigerians. According to Audu, the MTN staff involved in the crime blocked phone numbers of victims thereby preventing computer-generated text messages of transaction from being delivered to account owners, so the victims are unaware of what’s going on and therefore are unable to stop the shady transaction in time.
Audu said: “The suspects transferred the money siphoned into about 40 other accounts with ATM in different banks. They usually carry out their operations at weekends and public holidays to avoid being detected by the bank monitoring mechanisms or the owners of targeted funded accounts. The effort of the police team eventually paid off when the same group was holding their final meeting at Domino Pizza eatery along Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, on the plan to unleash another monumental fraud on unsuspecting customers.
“Their plan was to defraud some bank customers between May 26 and 29. Detectives stormed the venue during which one of the major kingpin, Alhaji Ismaeel Salami, and four members of the syndicate were arrested.”
Chukwunonso Ifeanyi denied being involved in the crime and said he suspected engineers at MTN headquarters as those behind the fraud. He disclosed it was the fourth time it has happened in his branch and explained someone must have used his access to commit the fraud.
He said: “I have no hand in that fraud. Someone used my access to do it and it was the fourth time it happened within a month. The first time, they used my Manager’s access, within two weeks, it was the Assistant Manager’s. The next person was a colleague before mine was used. All the times it happened, we were told to change our passwords, which we did. I suspect the engineers at the headquarters because they are the ones who usually gave us access to the systems.”
However, MTN PR Manager, Funso Aina, told The Guardian that those paraded were not MTN workers. Aina said “they are employees of a distribution partner who runs a Connect Store.”