SHORTLY before I joined Equitorial Trust Bank Limited as a corporate affairs manager years back, the Head of the Information Technology Department (name withheld), I was briefed, had manipulated the operating system in the bank without anyone knowing, fleeced millions of naira belonging to the bank and vamoosed to the US without any trace of his whereabouts or how the software was reprogrammed till today.
The rate of bank frauds in Nigeria is becoming alarming. It is blossoming simply because of insider collusion without which the trend would only be marginally occasioned by clientele negligence or carelessness—or human error by indolent bankers.
What fraudsters do these days is to hack into institutional websites, redesign them for their nefarious activities. Most unsuspecting patrons of such duplicitous websites are unlikely to distinguish them from the original ones. With this handicap, ignorant customers and account holders are misled into parting with their money without knowing until perhaps when the scales have fallen off their eyes by which time the harm had been perpetrated.
The latest practice of the yahoo-plus boys is to hack into accounts using BVN instrumentality. I understand that once they get any phone they access it for the victim’s BVN which most people store in their phones. Once the SIM card is removed from the phone, it is connected to a laptop and thereafter all the details of the account are downloaded and used to siphon money pronto before any blockage of the account.
What it now means is that people should stop storing their BVN or personal identification numbers (PINs) in their handsets. How criminals deploy these items for their fraudulent activities still amazes me and defies any credible rationalization.
For instance, is it possible for any criminal to clone another person’s GSM number without insider collusion? Without such connivance, there is no way the dupers can succeed because you need to go into the complex and intricate system somehow for such nefarious activities to succeed. There is no other way to it except the criminals are going to crash into the system from the satellite!
Some other scammers specialize in sending all manner of messages through the internet intimating you to the fact that your account has been debited and that if you want it stopped, do the needful as the gullible victims would be directed. At the end of the day, the victim ends up losing money or have their accounts cleared of whatever is there. The insider collusion element comes in here because it is not every account that is hacked into—it is usually those that are very liquid and whose owners may not even know that their money is being pilfered because of the deep-pocket balance. These things cannot be possible and seamless without collusive saboteurs in the system who give out classified information for huge paybacks. It is a close-knit racket that may prove difficult for any management to unravel if extreme care is not taken.
In the industrialized world, it is easy to burst all these criminalities because they have the knowhow, technology and crime-bursting experts who apprehend the thieves even while they are still putting finishing touches to their indulgence. Their civilized systems have zero-tolerance for dupery.
Banks must rein in on their IT staff and possibly make them to sign an undertaking to wit: if there is any run on the bank or any illicit movement of funds, they would be the prime suspects as no other category of staff is best placed to commit such criminalities than the IT chaps.
In fact, there have been instances where a customer gets a credit alert only to discover later that there is no such reflection in their account. Meanwhile, transactions would have taken place based on the scam message. There are copious other cases that one gets to hear on a daily basis—with multifarious dimensions. You will be astonished when victims recount their experiences in the name of banking. As I have already pointed out, at the heart of it all is insider collusion! There should be a way of checkmating these bank bandits before confidence in banking is eroded. I am sure that if not for the risk of armed robbers and fire, most people would prefer to keep their money at home.
The usurious charges and nondescript deductions do not help matters. When you keep money in the bank, you get ridiculous interests, but try borrowing money from a bank and you will know that banking is organized exploitative machinery used to sustain bankers’ obscene lifestyles.
I implore the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Special Fraud Intelligence Unit (SFIU) and First City Monument Bank (FCMB)—on grounds of the concluding paragraphs—to intervene before the financial scavengers exploiting loopholes in our imperfect electronic/mobile banking platforms would collapse the system as happened in Brazil a few years ago in the worst and most scandalous advance fee fraud in human history committed by one South Eastern family and their compromised bank collaborators in Nigeria.
On Friday, January 11, 2019, three hell-bound scammers—two men and a woman (Rita Eke, most likely a fictitious name just like her co-conspirators)—working in liaison cloned Dr. Alex Otti’s number and his voice (yes, on grounds of his quintessential Abia State governorship electioneering and scintillatingly profound public presentations being a first-class economist!) to fleece me of N450,000. The target really was N15 million if I had not swiftly retraced on reflection on my way to Diamond and Sterling banks for the transfer of the second tranche worth N14, 550,000.
The money was lodged into the account of one UMAR MUSBAUDEEN TUNDE on that ill-fated Friday at 01.32 p. m. Account number: 5858027015/First City Monument Bank (FCMB). I still have the debit alert in my handset.
This is the first and last time I will be a victim of horrendous dupery. It happened in the first place because of the respect I have for Dr. Otti and our robust relationship. In the past, I had received thousands of such calls and multi-media messages, which I promptly dismissed.
The dastardly numbers used for the heinous swindle were: 08030440085 (whose owner/coordinator impersonated Dr. Otti through telephonic engagements with me) and 08148207282 used by the modern-day Jezebel pseudonymously called Madam Rita who claimed that their gang had a warehouse somewhere in Iyana-Ipaja, a suburb of Lagos, from where she carries out her duplicitous enterprise.
It is this kind of syndicate that sends messages to unsuspecting bank customers after cloning bank websites telling them to send their personal identification numbers (PINs) for one transactional purpose or another on a daily basis, relentlessly. It is amazing that some people still fall victims of these online fraudsters. Mine is an exceptional case, cruelly coincidental and inexplicably circumstantial.
The bank account (above) used to siphon this money must have a BVN. On the part of FCMB, there should be Know Your Customer (KYC) critical element. The stories that I have heard that people open accounts for ad hoc purposes and close them down after thievish deployment are balderdash. In these days of BVN, banks and account holders should be held liable for any third-party intrusion or unauthorized or despicable utility of any account.