First Bank

Friday, March 4, 2022

How Fidelity Bank workers stole customers’ N874m, witness tells court

 A prosecuting witness told the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja, on Wednesday, how some Fidelity Bank staff members allegedly stole N874 million from the bank its customers in within three days.

Peter Ige, an Information System Auditor with Fidelity Bank, testified as the second prosecuting witness presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to testify against the accused staff members.

He told the judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, how the four accused persons hacked the bank’s database and cloned more than 22 Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards to steal N874 million, according to a statement by the EFCC, on Wednesday.

The defendants – Omidiji Joseph, Olusegun Babasola, Abisola Ahmed, Uchechukwu Uma and Jude Aphaeus – are being prosecuted by the EFCC on two counts of fraud involving N874 million they allegedly stole from the bank within three days.

EFCC said the money belongs to five corporate customers – American International Insurance Company Limited (AIICO); Interswitch; OVH Energy Marketing Ltd.; Fidelity Bank Sinking Fund Account and FSL Securities Ltd.

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. The anti-graft agency presenting Mr Ige as its second prosecution witness on Wednesday.

How alleged fraud was discovered

Mr Ige told the court how his department was asked to investigate the “massive fraud” in July 2019.

Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Nnaemeka Omewa, the witness identified the four defendants in the dock and gave details of the findings of the internal investigation carried out by his team.

“On July 15, 2019, as a System Auditor, my team was called upon to look at an instant of ATM fraud reported to the Internal Audit and to investigate same,” he said.

He explained further that his team reviewed the systems, the affected accounts as well as those who must have carried out the activities on the accounts. “We observed that the accounts were linked to a set of ATM cards, with their daily withdrawal limits increased from N150,000 to about N150million.”

He added that the permitted frequency of withdrawal was also increased, saying, “This was very abnormal; and so, it aided the commission of the fraud.”

The witness also stated that the investigation focused on the members of staff who had authorised privilege and login details to view the accounts of customers and also increase such frequency and limits on withdrawals.

“Normally, there should be a request either from the customer or another department requesting the services.

“In this case, from our investigation conducted, there was no evidence provided by the defendants to go into these accounts.”

He told the court that after the investigation by his department, an activity log was compiled, which formed part of the internal investigation.

The case has been adjourned till Thursday for the continuation of the trial.


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