Six Suspects Arrested for Cybercrimes in Lagos

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Chiemelie Ezeobi

For stealing people’s mobile phones to generate their user’s bank details and withdrawing their money from their bank accounts, six suspects were on Tuesday arrested and paraded by the police.

The suspects, who specialised in stealing people’s phones/sim cards to hack their bank accounts and swindle, were arrested following reports of their activities in various parts of the state, especially in Iyana-Ipaja, Iba, Festac and Alaba areas.

The suspects, Nwanze Ifeanyi, 27, Martin Achi, 27, Solomon Dike, 31, Muritala Mohammed alias Swallow, Ali Hassan, 27, and Shamson Mustapha, 25, were apprehended by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS).

According to the suspects, three members of the gang were responsible for stealing phones and sim cards, which they handed over to the gang leader.

In an interview with journalists at the command headquarters in Ikeja, Mohammed said he would send short codes to service providers through the stolen sim card to generate the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and account number of the owner.

He said: “Once it is the number registered with the bank, the details will appear on the phone and we would use it to hack into the person’s account. We generate PIN (Personal Identification Number) and do instant transfers from the person’s bank to our accounts. I have been doing this for over eight months now and I have made money from it.

“I have made over N300,000. It’s not true that we have made over a million. It’s not up to that. I use to give the guys who steal the phones, sim cards small change. I used to tell them the thing did not click. I paid the motorcyclist (Dike) N3,000 each time he took them out to steal phones.

“But I usually gave 30 percent of the amount transferred to those who provide their account numbers for that purpose. Everyone knew what was going on except Mustapha. He was not part of the deal. He’s just friends with Hassan.”

Ifeanyi blamed his membership of the gang to unemployment and poverty, claiming that most manufacturing companies in his neighbourhood would rather offer jobs to women.

He said: “I got tired going about in search of a job. I have finished Secondary School and i have my certificate. But each time I go in search of a job, they turn me down and they take women.

“I got tired of the rejection and when Swallow (Mohammed) told us about it, I agreed to it. We don’t use to rob in our area. We live in Okoko but we usually go to Egbeda and Igando axis to steal phones. We hand the sim cards to Mohammed and he’s the one who brings out the bank details and withdraws the money

“I have been working for him for about three months now and he has never given me a kobo. He always told us that the sim cards were not registered with the bank and that the deal did not work. I am surprised to hear now that he has been stealing millions from people’s accounts.”

According to the state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, the suspects were arrested following reports by one Kemi Benson, a resident of Alhaji Sunny Compound, Egbeda, that her sister’s phone was stolen on January 20 at their home.

Imohimi said: “She complained that she held a birthday party for her son at about 5pm and that while the party was on, a phone belonging to her sister, Yinka, was stolen. The victim, in her account, said she went to her service provider for Sim card replacement and that immediately she inserted the new sim to her new phone, she started receiving debit alerts.

“She said a total of N1,153,000 was withdrawn from her First City Monument Bank (FCMB) account. There were transfers of money from her account to Ikechukwu Anyaike 1888032010 (FCMB); Oyinuro Victor 00706675464 (Diamond Bank) and Joseph Blessing Benita 2096578968 (UBA).

“Other withdrawals were equally made by VTU. Investigation by RRS undercover operatives revealed a syndicate of six young men divided into three groups.

“The first group specialised in robbing residents of their mobile phones and escaping on motorcycle. The second group works on the simcards using computer applications. They generate the names, account number and BVN of the simcard owner.

“The retrieved details are used to determine the victim’s account balance and money in the account are transferred into different bank accounts.

“Two laptops, 10 simcards, Infinix Hot, a bag and two chargers were recovered from them. They have confessed to the crime and further investigation revealed that the gang transferred N120,000 from Diamond account number 2000050986 belonging to Chima Mbakwe of 3, BM Anyanwu Close, Iba New Site, Lagos.

“The command uses this opportunity to call on Lagosians, particularly those whose phones were stolen in Okoko, Alaba Rago, Ojo, Iba and Iyana-Iba axis and money illegitimately moved from their accounts to come forward.”