Home » Headlines » How two staff allegedly transferred clients N1.3b to friend, BDC — Witness

How two staff allegedly transferred clients N1.3b to friend, BDC — Witness

A Federal High Court in Lagos heard on Monday that two former employees of First Marina Trust Limited cloned the emails of several customers and defrauded them for over N1.3 billion.

This testimony was provided by Anthony Onyeoghane, a witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He spoke at the resumption of the trial of two First Marina Trust Limited employees, Adeyemi Oluwaseun and Suleiman Yusuf, who have since been fired.

They were charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit identity theft, impersonation, and cybercrime by the EFCC.

They were first arraigned before Justice Chuka Obiozor in June 2018.

However, Obiozor was transferred from the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, and the case was reassigned to Justice Tijani Ringim.

Following the re-assignment of the case, the defendants re-arraigned on May 12, 2022 before Ringim.

They, again, pleaded not guilty to the charge and Ringim allowed them to continue on their earlier bail.

When the trial resumed on Monday, prosecution counsel, Nnaemeka Omenwa, called the witness for examination-in-chief.

Onyeoghane told the court that he worked as a Chief Risk Officer at First Marina Trust Limited, a financial institution regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He identified the defendants as his former colleagues who served as Marketing Operators and Relationship Managers respectively.

The witness told the court that he had chaired a committee set up to investigate a case of internal fraud within the company allegedly orchestrated by the defendants from May 3, 2016.

He told the court that both defendants connived to create email addresses of customers in a bid to defraud them.

According to Onyeoghane, the defendants conspired to change a customer’s email address, Chinedu Ohamuo, whose email address is: [email protected].

The witness said that the defendants changed the same as [email protected].

He said that following a change of the email, the second defendant, acting as a customer of the company, wrote an email to himself at his official email address, instructing that N15 million should be liquidated from the customer’s investment account.

He said that the second defendant also instructed that the funds should be transferred to one Olufemi Ajala, his childhood friend.

The witness said that the second defendant printed out the email address as required by the company’s policy, and wrote on it: “Email received,” dated and signed it.

Onyeoghane added:

“He then took the said email to the first defendant who, upon verification, uploaded the request to the electronic payment system known as GAPS.

“The sum of N15 million was transferred from the unsuspecting customer’s account to Olufemi Ajala.

“They used the same tactics in 19 other transactions.

“The defendants transferred from unsuspecting customers’ investment accounts for over N1.3 billion.”

The witness testified that the only difference between the 19 other transactions and the one to Ajala was that Ajala was removed from the “equation” and replaced with a Bureau De Change.

Onyeoghane said:

“On May 16, 2016, a customer known as White App Resources Limited also saw his investment account defrauded by the defendants to the tune of N186.2 million, using computer system.

“On May 17, 2016, the same cyber fraud was committed by the defendants on the same customer, and the sum of N237.2 million was stolen.

“On May 27, 2016, the sum of N500.2 million was also stolen.”

The witness told the court that the same fraud happened on June 9, 2016; June 22, 2016; and September 8, 2016, during which various sums of money were transferred.

Onyeoghane told the court that the first defendant confessed to the investigative committee that he provided the accounts of the Bureau De Change into which the monies were transferred.

According to the witness, while on the run on September 19, 2016, the second defendant sent an email to the Managing Director of the company, confessing to the crime and promising to use his “last blood” in making sure that he refunded the money.

The witness told the court that the proper procedure for liquidating a company’s account was by a handwritten letter or email requesting the same.

“The said letter or email is sent to the relationship manager of that particular customer, who is to confirm the letter or email by calling the customer to verify,” he said.

According to Onyeoghane, upon verification, the officer is to write: “Email or letter confirmed,” then sign and hand it over to the treasury operation staff, who in turn verifies the same before uploading it in the electronic payment system.

The case has been adjourned until February 14, 2023, for the continuation of trial.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants obtained sums of money from unsuspecting company customers by altering their email addresses.

The EFCC said that the offences contravene the provisions of Sections 13, 22(4), 27(a) and 27(2) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, 2015.

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