Cybercrime: Fraudsters hack bank, transfer N523m to 225 accounts in 22 other banks

*The Nigeria Police disclose the operatives at the Police Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, in Lagos, have arrested two of the suspects in connection with the cybercrime perpetrated in one of the country’s old generation banks

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Suspected fraudsters, during a three-day cyberattack, have hacked a customer’s account domiciled in an old generation bank, in Nigeria, and fraudulently transferred N523,337,100 from the account to 18 different accounts in the same bank.

ConsumerConnect reports SP Eyitayo Johnson, Spokesman of the Nigeria Police Special Fraud Unit, in Ikoyi, Lagos State, disclosed this development Wednesday.

Johnson said the suspects subsequently transferred the money from the 18 accounts into 225 other accounts domiciled in 22 other banks and financial institutions.

The Police authorities revealed the cybercriminals coordinated cyberattack visited the affected financial institution from Saturday, April 23, 2022, till the early hours of Monday, April 25, before business re-opened.

The statement also said that the Police had arrested two of the suspects in connection to the cybercrime.

Johnson further stated: “The Legal Section of the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), in Ikoyi, Lagos, headed by CSP E. A. Jackson, has successfully obtained an order of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, for the preservation/forfeiture/attachment of a net sum of N523,337,100 fraudulently transferred by Internet fraudsters, who hacked a customer’s account domiciled in one of the old-generation banks and posted the funds into 18 different accounts in the same bank before transmitting same to 225 other accounts in 22 banks/financial institutions.

“In the course of the investigation, the sum of 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.”

The Police said: “The suspects will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

In a related development, Johnson as well said the legal section of the PSFU charged certain Sikiru Olayinka along with his company, Excampo Nigeria Limited, to the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, in Lagos, for offences bordering on fraudulent conversion and stealing of $123,000.00 being money wrongly transferred into his company’s domiciliary account September 5, 2018.

The PSFU Spokesman also said, “On receipt of the funds into his account, Sikiru Olawale, within hours, quickly visited the bank and transferred $120,000.00 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 refused and frustrated these efforts and continued to dissipate the money contrary to the provisions of Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991, and the Failed Banks Act, 1994.”

Meanwhile, Johnson said the PSFU September 15, 2022, also arraigned certain James Abidemi and his company, Diamondsmith De-Great Universal Petroleum Corporation, and others at large, before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, for conspiracy and obtaining the sum of N396,999,080.00 by false pretences, 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,” said Johnson.

He further noted: “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 May 23 and 28, 2022.

“The money was meant for the purchase of $688,000.00 at an exchange rate of N577 per US Dollar and was supposed to remit the same as $250,000.00, $325,000.00, $100,000.00 and $13,000.00 to specified beneficiaries in mainland China and Hong Kong.”

According to Johnson, 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 stated: “Consequently, the PSFU has solicited the cooperation of INTERPOL to apprehend the remaining members of the syndicate that are outside Nigeria.

“The Commissioner of Police, SFU, Anyasinti 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 cyberattacks.

He stated: “She equally enjoined 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 or re-route the same.”

The statement added: “Utilising such funds is a criminal offence.”

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