A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Onovae Oghenovo, has narrated before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Lagos Special Offences Court in Ikeja, how four members of staff of Fidelity Bank Plc. hacked its database, cloned over 22 ATM cards and stole N874 million belonging to five corporate customers within three days.
In his testimony, Oghenovo who is the Head of Internal Audit and Investigations Division of Fidelity bank, disclosed that the five corporate accounts are those of the American International Insurance Company Limited (AIICO), Interswitch, OVH Energy Marketing Ltd., Fidelity Bank sinking fund account and FSL Securities Ltd.
According to him, four staff members of Fidelity Bank identified as Abisola Ahmed, Olusegun Babasola, Uchechukwu Uma and Jude Alphaeus, fraudulently primed and linked ATM debits cards to the corporate accounts and thereafter made various ATM cash withdrawals from different ATM terminals, POS purchases, bill payments as well as ATM fund transfers.
While being led in evidence by EFCC’s lawyer, Nnaemeka Omewa, the witness said that between July 12, 2019 and July 15, 2019, the sum of N874 million was fraudulently withdrawn from five accounts in Fidelity Bank.
He said: “I know the first, second, third and fourth defendants in the dock, except the fifth one. The four defendants were employees of Fidelity Bank and they all worked in the Virtual Banking Unit.
“Sometimes in July 2019, Babasola, who was in the virtual department, fraudulently accessed the victims’ accounts. When he was queried, he claimed he wasn’t the one that viewed the accounts. But we later found out that his private token was opened on his mobile phone. More so, virtual bank doesn’t interface directly with customers but rely on request from the call center unit.
“Babasola viewed the accounts from his mobile phone and soft tokens were generated to access the five victims accounts.
“On July 11, Ahmed also viewed same five accounts. And upon query, he claimed he responded to a customer’s request. But upon enquiry, we discovered that no request was made.
“Also, Uchechukwu viewed the account of FSL Securities LTD between 10th and 13th of July. My lord, prior to July 11, none of the victims’ accounts had ATM cards. Again, between 12th and 15th of July, Uchechukwu and Jude’s profile were also used to enhance withdrawal limits of ATM cards. For example, an ATM card limit that has N150,000 was enhanced to N150 million.
“The sum of N1.7 million was withdrawn via cash from AIICO and N20 million was transferred to 3rd parties. Making it an estimated N22 million withdrawal.
“The sum of N115,260, 000 was withdrawn from Interswitch account. The cash sum of N61.8 million was withdrawn from OVH Energy accounts, while N500,000 was transferred to third party. Also, N9 million was transferred from Fidelity Bank sinking fund account. While N6,257,000 was withdrawn from FSL Securities account and used to pay bills, N281 million was withdrawn using ATM and N44 million withdrawn using POS. When the bank found out about this theft, we quickly reported to the EFCC.”
The petition was subsequently tendered by the EFCC’s lawyer as evidence following which the matter was adjourned to November 12 for continuation of trial.
The four Fidelity Bank staff were arraigned alongside a businessman, Adewale Jeff Johnson, on a 2-count charge of conspiracy and stealing by the anti-graft agency.
The offences were said to have contravened Sections 278(1)(2) & 285(1) and 9(b) of the Criminal law of Lagos State, 2011.