No one would doubt that 21st century technology has significantly improved life and living. It has replaced inefficiency and erratic services with precision, accuracy, speed and quick service delivery.
Different computer soft wares have obviously been used to transform businesses and corporate service delivery. The effect of sophisticated software could be seen and felt in aviation, maritime, education, healthcare delivery system, banking services and other financial transactions.
It has drastically reduced human-to-human interface and eliminated several barriers in business and other corporate engagements. The consequence is job loss in some cases. But it has created huge opportunities for another category of employees.
Unfortunately, some “smart people” have taken the advantage of identified lapses and shortcomings in technology usage to unleash terror and misery on Nigerians. Conventional armed robbers were hitherto known for blocking the highways and invading people’s homes with sophisticated weapons to forcefully dispossess them of cash and other valuable items. But otherwise is the case with 21st century armed robbery.
The men of underworld may have gone digital. They have invaded Abuja and their presence is strongly being felt. They are obviously in Abuja to take advantage of innocent residents that could fall victim. The targets of these “digital” armed robbers are bank customers.
New evidences suggest they have either signed pact with some taxi operators or use their private cars to ply their “evil” trade. Testimonies and experiences from victims suggest that the digital armed robbers know one another and, as part of modus operandi, have assigned different responsibilities to each person.
Operational time and period has also been assigned to each member for easy accomplishment of task. While some hunt during the day, others put their skills to use at night. Some others choose to operate at weekends.
Being digital armed robbers, they have taken mastery of all online banking platforms. They have acquainted themselves with the use of Point Of Sale (POS) machine, Automated Teller Machines (ATM), Mobile Applications, Cash Transfer Codes and several other online banking platforms.
They seem to have studied the characters of Abuja residents and have taken advantage of that to unleash terror and penury on some unlucky ones.
Some victims of the POS armed robbery testified that the robbers disguise as taxi drivers or some good Samaritans to assist the suspected targets, especially females. And in the middle of the “assistance” execute their nefarious intentions.
A victim who was identified as Grace (surname withheld) told Daily Sun that she fell into the evil hands of the “digital” armed robbers few weeks ago on her way to see a friend in Lokogoma part of Abuja:
“My friend and I were at Area One roundabout at that cloudy fateful evening, trying to get a cab to Lokogoma. People were rushing home to escape the rain. Suddenly, a sky blue Toyota Camry, popularly called “Muscle” pulled off the road and offered to assist us to our destination. We gladly jumped in with the hope that we have found help. But other- wise became the case.
“It was only the driver and two other guys that were inside the car. They were friendly and nice initially, but became hostile shortly before Galadimawa roundabout. Suddenly, their countenance changed totally. At gunpoint, they emptied our hand bags. They couldn’t find much cash on us. But our ATM cards were boldly displayed in our purse. They giggled and quickly brought out portable POS machine and quietly demanded for our ATM PIN. It was like a Nollywood movie to me.
“I was so lucky that day, but otherwise was the case with my friend. The ATM card with me had only N87,000 in it. But my friend said she had over N500,000 in her own. They gladly transferred all our money and took two of our phones. They deleted all the alert messages from the bank and tightly block all holes through which they could be traced. It was a horrible experience that could better be imagined.”
Weekend ATM robbers
Digital armed robbers have also taken advantage of the weekends to rob bank customers at ATM points in some
isolated areas in Abuja. Aside online banking platforms and ATM, it is known to customers that banks don’t operate at weekends. The digital armed robbers are very much aware of that and that had recently taken advantage of that to rip people off their treasures.
The operational system suggests that they disguise as customers and move round the isolated ATM points in different parts of Abuja, dispossessing bank customers of their money.
A victim, Bulus Ishaya, told the story of how the digital armed robbers met him at a lonely ATM (name withheld) point in Garki 2, at night and successfully emptied his account: “I was, innocently, using the ATM when the guy came close with a cheerful face. He quietly raised his shirts exposing a pistol gun to me. He asked me to cooperate so the experience could be peaceful. I complied with him because that was the only option I had.
“He immediately terminated my transaction. He requested and confirmed my PIN in the machine and zoomed off. All I received throughout that weekend was debit alert. The alert came in torrents as he made the withdrawal. I was helpless and could not reach the bank because it was weekend. That was how I lost my hard earned money.”
Mobile App robbers
Digital robbers also rob bank customers through the use of Mobile Applications,
which has received huge acceptability from bank customers. The Mobile App is also compatible for any kinds of android phones and devices.
A victim who pleaded anonymity said he and his girlfriend were, few months ago, robbed at gunpoint by same digital armed robbers at Utako, Abuja: “It was after a weekend outing few months ago, at the early hours of a Saturday that I stopped a green coloured taxi to take me to my house in Wuye. I can vividly remember that it was saloon golf car and I saw only the driver inside the car when I stopped the taxi.
“Just few minutes into the journey, an arm stretched from my behind and pointed a pistol gun on my head. Immediately I knew we were under siege. From all indications, the accomplices were inside the boot of the car.
“They came out midway and joined the driver in the action. The driver was asked to park at an isolated place. They ransacked my girlfriend’s bag and got no reasonable money. Same was the case with me. They collected our phones and moved straight to our Mobile App which was conspicuously displayed on the phone. Step by step, they opened it and requested for our PIN, which we were forced to disclose. That was how they emptied our accounts.”
A banker, Kasimu, advised bank customers with Mobil App on their phones to always freeze or hide it, and unfreeze it when necessary.
FCT Transport Secretary, Kayode Opeifa, denied knowledge of the new development: “We are not aware of any reported case if any. However, our Public Transportation Management system and Mile to Mile mobility reform is aimed at ensuring such unfortunate situation are prevented. Some elements of the reform include licensing requirement for public transport vehicles and operators.”
FCT Police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, did not pick calls and refused to reply text messages sent to his phone.