An investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told a Lagos court on Thursday how four bank officials cloned ATM cards and linked some accounts to them to steal N874 million belonging to Fidelity Bank and its customers in 2019.
Chimdinma Peter appeared as the third prosecution witness in the trial of the four bank officials and an alleged external conspirator at the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos.
Mr Peter’s testimony focused on the findings of EFCC’s investigations into the alleged fraud, the anti-graft agency’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement.
The four bank officials facing the fraud charges are Olusegun Babasola, Abisola Ahmed, Uchechukwu Uma, Jude Aphaeus.
The non-staff member standing trial along with them is Omidiji Joseph.
EFCC had said the money stolen through the hacked Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards belonged to five corporate customers – American International Insurance Company Limited (AIICO); Interswitch; OVH Energy Marketing Ltd.; Fidelity Bank Sinking Fund Account and FSL Securities Ltd.
‘How alleged fraud was perpetrated’
Testifying on the alleged fraud on Thursday, the third prosecution witness, Mr Peter, told the court that EFCC received a petition from Fidelity Bank on the alleged fraud and immediately swung into action.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Nnaemeka Omewa, the witness said his team of investigators found out that the alleged fraud was perpetrated using the Postillion App.
He said: “We accessed the banking app domiciled in the server to ascertain the IP address used.
“It pointed to a System domiciled at the Virtual Unit of the bank domiciled in Lagos.
“The system was identified and we found out it was used to de-link already existing ATM cards, and link them to some other accounts.”
The witness said investigations along revealed that the ATM cards were linked to the five “victimised accounts” from which N874 million was withdrawn at different times.
“The system used was identified and we observed that for it to be accessed, login details must be used.
“We found out that the profile used belonged to the third and fourth defendants.
“We reviewed the activities of the Virtual Unit and found out that three members of staff of the Unit also viewed the affected accounts prior to the withdrawals when they had no reason to do so,” the witness said.
He added: “For the Virtual Unit of the bank to view an account, there must be a request from the Qserve, but a review for the period from 9th to 15th July 2019 did not reveal any request to the Virtual Unit of the bank.”
Mr Peter said the third and fourth defendants claimed ignorance of the use of their profile login details to access the Postillion App during the period the alleged fraud was perpetrated.
“The application was used to increase the daily withdrawal limit from N150,000 to N100 million,” the witness added.
An Information System Auditor with Fidelity Bank, Peter Ige, has testified in the case as the second prosecution witness on Wednesday.
Mr Ige had testified on the findings of the bank’s internal investigation into the alleged fraud in 2019.
The witness, who said he was part of the internal investigative team, told the trial judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, how the four officials allegedly hacked the bank’s database and cloned more than 22 ATM cards to steal N874 million within three days.
‘How proceeds were distributed’
Mr Petet said when the accounts were linked to the ATM cards, money was withdrawn in cash and also transferred to other bank accounts including that of one King Dommy Enterprise.
“King Dommy Enterprise received several inflows of tranches of N908,000 totalling N136 million debited from FSL.
“From this, N50 million was transferred to the account of the fifth defendant, Omidiji Joseph Olanrewaju on 15th July, which was thereafter disbursed to different accounts including Findrex Aviation business school and Waltham BDC.”
The third prosecution witness also tendered more exhibits against the defendants, including a DVD of the bank’s CCTV footage on Thursday.