THE Lagos State Police Command has smashed a syndicate that specialised in dispossessing victims’ phones for the purpose of getting their account details and making withdrawals without the account holder’s knowledge.
Arrested were six suspected members of the gang, among them: a staff of one of the second generation banks and a pickpocket.
Before the arrest, security agents in particular and Nigerians in general have been inundated with complaints from persons who fell victims to these fraudsters. Some personal experiences were even circulated via whatsapp and other social media platforms, warning Nigerians to guard their phones.
The arrest is the first since the hoodlums devised this fraudulent means to make ends meet.
Identities of the suspects are : Akeem Apejoye (29) Nelson Mathew (26) Ohiozoye Joseph (30)Henry Omogbemi (31) Chris Amaechi (26) banker and Mona John (27).
Members of the syndicate in this exclusive interview with Crime Guard made starling revelations on their respective role in the fraudulent act. They disclosed that those who have Automated Teller Machine cards are at a disadvantage whenever their phones are stolen, as well as those who store their account numbers on their phones or receive alerts on their phones.
To get victims phones, the syndicate liaise with pick pockets who steal phone and bring the sim cards to them, at the end of which they are paid.
According to Ohiozogie Joseph , an Edo state indigene , “ My role is to get details of the Bank Verification Number from stolen sim cards.
Thereafter, I will contact Oracle and Hunter ( still on the run) who are into internet fraud. They would deactivate the settings and withdraw money from any available ATM machine or transfer online to a Merchant bank. I get at least N50,000 at the end of each transaction. “
On his part, Chris Amaechi, a banker with one of the second generation banks who admitted to be working with some members of the syndicate, disclosed that he had done six transactions with one of the members.
The graduate of Banking and Finance from Saint Paul University, Awka , Anambra state also revealed that he got N15,000 at the end of each successful deal. His major role was to give full details of victims account, particularly those who have accounts with his bank.
He said, “A friend Ayobami, popularly called AY, gave customers details to me to withdraw money. At times I gave them the exact account, if owner of the account banks with us. I met AY in December 2017.
I have so far done six transactions with him but not all went through. In my own bank, the stolen sim must have an ATM cards, for withdrawals of such to be possible. One Gabriel also approached me for same deal .
We have been talking but he was yet to give me any deal before I was arrested.” Asked if he had ever received complaint from victims, he replied “ I do not work in the unit where customers lodge complaints. I work in Cards Services department. I was employed as a contract staff 11 months ago and I earn N75,000 monthly”.
As for Nelson Matthew, he stated that he only accepted sim cards of a particular bank ( name withheld) from pickpockets. Explaining, he said that his role was to “do USSD transfer by rolling victims SIM cards. For instance when such sims are given to me, the first thing is to get the person’s account number and the code.
All I need to do is dial *901#. This is followed by a request to create a pin and another request for code. Again, I will dial *565 # which will reveal the ten digits of the account holder’s BVN . From there I will take the last four digits and create another pin. Thereafter, I will make transfer online, to a merchant account. I have done this over 15 times last year but this is my first attempt this year”.
Asked how much he had made so far, he said “ that depends on the withdrawal limit. In my case, the account limit of the bank I can access is N20,000”.
“Our targets are those who store their account numbers on their phones. We also get account details through alerts on phones “, said the 2015 graduate of Wedding and Fabrication from the Yaba College of Technology.
Another suspect, Henry Omagbemi, said he was a lone ranger and that he was also into USSD transfer of accounts of two particular banks which daily withdrawal unit is N200,000.
He said , “I get between N40,000 and N50,000 on each withdrawal . All I need is the sim card which are brought to me by pickpockets. I only know one of the pickpockets, Obinna, his share is N70,000 on each successful withdrawal. At times, when I get a sim, I will contact AY who will get the banker that will give us the last four digits of the account holder. At the end, the banker (Ameachi ) gets N20,000”.
During investigation, one of the suspects Muna John was discovered to have had his last transaction two weeks ago where N200,000 was withdrawn from the victim’s account.
But in his case he stated that a relative of the victim brought the sim to him. “Somebody called and said he had his brother’s sim card in which was an alert of N360,000. I contacted AY who told me that he was not around. I had to call Gabriel because I do not know how to go about it.
He ( Gabriel) collected the sim and sent it to the banker, from where N200,000 was withdrawn.