The Sun News

How we steal millions from customers, bank staff confesses

Chioma Igbokwe

Suspected fraudsters including a staff of a new generation bank, identified as Christian Amechi have told the Police how they allegedly stole millions of naira from customers using a string of impersonators.

The bank staff who, until his arrest, was serving at the ATM customers service unit, at the bank headquarters, Victoria Island, Lagos and others identified as Oyozoje Joseph, Nelson Matthew Eugari, Henry Omogbemi and Ene Mona Gabriel are currently being detained at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State Police Command.

Bubble burst

The gang had successfully removed over N20 million from accounts belonging to different customers before they were arrested. On their arrest, Saturday Sun gathered that they ran out of luck when policemen on patrol arrested the leader of a notorious gang of pickpockets, Akeem Apejoye in Lagos.

In his confessional statement at the police station, Akeem indicted several others including Christian, the banker as the one who encouraged him to continue to steal phones. He alleged that Christian and his gang were mainly interested in the SIM cards of the stolen phones. He led the police to the homes of the people who were collecting the SIM cards from him. 

Though, he alleged that he was not in the know that Christian and his group use the SIM cards to remove money from the accounts of customers, but added that the group often buys him drinks at joints whenever he runs into them.

A banker’s shocking confession

On how he and others managed to steal from the bank customers, Christian told the police that all that is needed is the customer’s SIM card.

According to him, any customer that does online transaction has his or her BVN number stored on his or her phone. He said: “I am a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, (UNN) where I read banking and finance. Luckily for me, I was employed by the bank (name withheld) and was the ATM card system analyst at the bank headquarters, Victoria Island, Lagos. I grew up in Ajegunle and I know almost all members of the gang. I know them on the street, but I was introduced into the business by one of my friends known as Osey boy and DJ.

“What happened is that Osey boy and DJ are referred to as the gang’s ‘shooters.’ What it means is that they can remove bank secret code numbers, particular BVN from phones. They will dial the USSD number and with this, they can access the owner’s BVN. That is if the owner does online banking. Once this is done, they will send me the last six digits with which I can access the owner’s account. My job is to ascertain how much is in the account and at times help transfer money to the person who provides me the information. The gang can then transfer at least N200,000 per transaction into their own account from where they will have easy access to the stolen funds.

“The gang pays me between N10,000 to N15,000 per transfer and I have lost count of how many of such transactions we have done in the past. In all, I have made at least N150,000 and I used part of it to upgrade my certificate.”

Chris, the banker, as he is referred to by members of the gang also revealed that, aside helping the gang to generate information on account holders, he also provided the gang with telephone numbers of victims.

He disclosed in his statement to the police that, at times, the gang would do a welcome back of some of the telephone numbers he generated. He said: “What happens in this case is that the original owner of the line would not be able to make or receive calls. The person who did the welcome back is the only one that can access all calls or text messages on such numbers. The gang members are staff of telecommunication providers. These set of people are the ones who do the welcome back for the gang on any number to be profiled.”

Regrets

The 30 year old who resides at No. 80 Adekeye Street, Ajegunle, said that he joined the gang out of frustration but now regrets the steps he took.

“My greatest regret is when my aged mother came to see me while I’m police custody. I pray that God will give her the heart and courage to bear the pains because I know that she will be going through so much pains right now.”

Another member of the gang, Oyosoje Joseph, an engineer who graduated from the University of Lagos, said the he had made well over N10 million from local fraud.

At the time of his arrest, the suspect had over N5 million in one of his accounts. An account he operates with one of the new generation banks has already been frozen.

Yet another suspect, Henry Omagbemi, 31, is said to have operated a network of bogus names to launder the proceeds while Chris, allegedly laundered some of the cash.

Police reaction

Confirming their arrest, Lagos State Police spokesman, SP Chike Oti, said that the gang transferred money from a victim account and that the money was then laundered through a series of bogus names before being moved into their individual account to prevent it being recovered.

According to him, “one of the victims lost more than N2 million after the gang used a fake welcome back telephone number in the account holder’s name to set up two transfers over three days. They were in the process of duping a customer of N200 million when they were arrested.”

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