N874m theft: How bank officials clone ATM

An investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told a Lagos court how four bank officials cloned ATM cards; while also linking some accounts to them to steal N874 million belonging to Fidelity Bank, as well as its customers in 2019.

Chimdinma Peter appeared as the third prosecution witness in the trial of four bank officials and an alleged external conspirator; at the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos.

Specifically, Peter’s testimony focused on the findings of EFCC’s investigations into the alleged fraud.

Equally important, the four bank officials facing the fraud charges are: Olusegun Babasola; Abisola Ahmed; Uchechukwu Uma; as well as Jude Aphaeus.

Also, the non-staff member standing trial along with them is Omidiji Joseph.

Correspondingly, the EFCC said the money stolen through the hacked Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, belonged to five corporate customers. Notably, they include American International Insurance Company Limited (AIICO); Interswitch; OVH Energy Marketing Ltd.; Fidelity Bank Sinking Fund Account; as well as FSL Securities Ltd.

The alleged fraud

Testifying on the alleged fraud, the third prosecution witness, Peter, told the court; that EFCC received a petition from Fidelity Bank on the alleged fraud; and immediately swung into action.

Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Nnaemeka Omewa, the witness said his team of investigators found out; that the fraud was perpetrated using the Postillion App.

He said: “We accessed the banking app domiciled in the server to ascertain the IP address used.

“It pointed to a System domiciled at the Virtual Unit of the bank domiciled in Lagos”

“The system was identified and we found out it was used to de-link already existing ATM cards; and link them to some other accounts.”

Similarly, the witness said, investigations revealed that the ATM cards were linked to the five “victimised accounts” from which N874 million was withdrawn at different times”

“The system used was identified; and we observed that for it to be accessed, login details must be used”

“We found out that the profile used belonged to the third and fourth defendants”

“We reviewed the activities of the Virtual Unit and found out that three members of staff of the Unit; also viewed the affected accounts prior to the withdrawals when they had no reason to do so,” the witness said.

Virtual unit of the bank

He added: “For the Virtual Unit of the bank to view an account; there must be a request from the Qserve.

However, a review for the period from 9th to 15th July 2019; did not reveal any request to the Virtual Unit of the bank.”

Further, Peter said the third and fourth defendants, claimed ignorance of the use of their profile login details; to access the Postillion App during the period the fraud was perpetrated.

“The application was used to increase the daily withdrawal limit from N150,000 to N100 million.” 

Meanwhile, an Information System Auditor with Fidelity Bank, Peter Ige, testified in the case; as the second prosecution witness.

Additionally, Ige told the trial judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, how the four officials, hacked the bank’s database; and also cloned more than 22 ATM cards, to steal N874 million, within three days.

Furthermore, Peter said when the accounts were linked to the ATM cards money was withdrawn in cash; and also transferred to other bank accounts; including that of King Dommy Enterprise.

Received several inflows

“King Dommy Enterprise received several inflows of tranches of N908,000 totalling N136 million debited from FSL.

“From this, N50 million was transferred to the account of the fifth defendant, Omidiji Joseph Olanrewaju, on 15th July; and subsequently, disbursed to different accounts, among which are; Findrex Aviation business school; and Waltham BDC.”

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