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Court jails two hackers over N2.5bn fraud

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) has secured conviction of two men who connived to hack into the database of Union Bank to steal N2.5bn.

They are Abass Mohammed and a Bureau De Change, (BDC) operator, Ibrahim Saidu Jogal.

The Commission received a petition alleging that fraudsters had hacked into the bank’s database and diverted the sum of N2,550,000,000. An investigation into the petition revealed that the said money was fraudulently credited into the accounts of mostly BDC operators, including one Jaxmine BDC, Gona BDC and Great Well Communication.

It was further revealed that Mohammed sourced for the account details of Jaxmine BDC from one of his friends, Lawal Ubah, who was a signatory to the account, and subsequently gave the details to one Salisu Liman (aka Zico), the ring leader of the syndicate. The sum of N450 million was then credited into the account.

Subsequently, the sum of N79 million was transferred from the account of Jaxmine BDC into the account of Digare BDC owned by Jogal for the purpose of buying $500,000. Further investigations revealed that Jogal only paid $80,000 to Mohammed and kept the balance of $420,000.

Jogal, investigations also revealed, said that he got information that the money was not genuine but fraudulent, thereby prompting Mohammed to open up to him that the money was stolen.

They were arraigned before Justice K.A. Jose of the State High Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos on three-count charges bordering on conspiracy, retention and use of proceeds of criminal conduct contrary to Section 331(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws No. 11, Vol 44 of Lagos State 2011.

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, paving the way for the commencement of their trial.

In proving its case against them, the EFCC presented three witnesses – Vincent Agwu, a Union Bank official, and two investigators, Joseph Nkeson and Aliyu Abubakar. Several documents were also tendered in court by the prosecution.

Delivering judgment, Justice Jose found the defendants guilty on counts two and three and discharged them on count one, which bordered on conspiracy to defraud. Mohammed was sentenced to a term of one year in prison.

The trial judge further ordered that the sum of $37,000 and $7,000 recovered from him by the EFCC should be handed over to Union Bank, while the car recovered from him should be sold and the proceeds are given to the bank.

Justice Jose observed that Jogal showed no contrition, and failed to pay back a substantial sum of the money traced to him.

Subsequently, he was sentenced to a term of three years, and ordered to return the sum of $220,000 and another $200,000 earlier recovered from him by the EFCC to Union Bank.

The judge also ordered that his property, whose title documents he gave to the Commission, should be sold and the proceeds handed over to the bank.

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