The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced yesterday a major breakthrough in its anti-fraud battle.

Four suspects, including two bureau de change operators – Salihu Liman Mahmoud and Dan Asabe Ibrahim – have been arrested for alleged N2.05billion fraud.

The other suspects are two students of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) – Isaiah Friday and Azzaior Samuel.

According to the EFCC, the suspects invaded Union Bank’s database and manipulated it to steal N2.05billon.

The commission said it recovered N475.3million from the suspects.

Other items recovered include furniture worth N10 million from Mahmoud’s one-bedroom apartment in Yaba, Lagos Mainland; four vehicles; landed properties in Kano and Kaduna and a four-bedroom duplex worth N45 million in Lagos

According to a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, the suspects specialise in breaking into computer data of banks.

It said their arrest followed a report by Union Bank of Nigeria, Plc.

The statement said: “The fraudsters, who specialise in breaking into the computer data base of financial institutions in order to carry out dry posting of funds, were arrested in Lagos and Jos.

“ Their arrest came on the heels of a petition which the Commission received from Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Marina, Lagos sometime in January 2013, alleging that a criminal attack had been launched on its data base known as “Flexcube”, by unknown criminals.

“The criminals falsified the bank records and accounts and created unjustified huge opening balances in several accounts across the bank’s branches and subsequently transferred funds from those accounts to several accounts in other banks.

“The petition, which was signed by A.F Olufade, Head of Fraud Investigation at the bank, said cash withdrawals and electronic transfers totalling over N2.05billion was involved in the scam.”

The commission said one of the suspects, Isaiah Friday, who is a computer maintenance artisan, coordinated the scam.

The statement added: “Upon receiving the petition, the Commission’s Banks and Other Financial Institutions Fraud section swung into action.”

Investigations by the commission, however, revealed that Friday, who was carrying out computer system maintenance services for one of Union Bank branches in Jos on a part-time basis, paved the way for the fraudsters to penetrate the bank’s database. Friday was traced and arrested. His arrest led to the arrest of Azaaior Samuel.

“Investigations further revealed that Mahmoud, who is the mastermind of the fraud with others now at large, had approached Samuel if he knew anyone working with the Union Bank. Samuel gave Friday’s contact and Friday was contacted.

“They told him they needed access to the bank’s database in order to carry out some postings. They promised to give Friday N1, 500,000 if the deal succeeded. Friday obliged and on the day the crime was committed, Samuel disguised as a colleague of Friday who had accompanied him to work in order to gain access to the bank’s premises. They carried out the postings to six different company accounts domiciled in Union Bank’s Marina branch in Lagos.

“The accounts are: Gona Bureau De Change Limited, Jaxmine Bureau De Change Limited, Dan Kawu Bureau De Change Limited, Godswill Great Communications, ZHG Services Limited and A and B Console Limited.

“The postings were carried out and the syndicate thereafter went to the bank to draw all the funds. Friday was paid as promised and other syndicate members now at large shared the remaining balance.”

The EFCC said it had so far recovered N475,326,720 from the suspects, including $2,129,900 and N134,542,720.

The statement added: “Other items recovered include: furniture worth N10 million from Salihu Liman’s one-bedroom apartment in Yaba, Lagos, four vehicles, landed properties in Kano and Kaduna and a four-bedroom duplex worth N45 million in Lagos.

“Investigation into the scam continues.”

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