Operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, of the Lagos State Police Command has smashed a syndicate which specialised in withdrawing cash from bank accounts of dead customers, within and outside Nigeria.

It also foiled an attempt by the syndicate to transfer N25 million from a local bank account and $220,000 from a foreign account, in the process. Arrested were seven suspected members of the syndicate, Vanguard Newspaper reports.

Preliminary investigation revealed that members of the syndicate would scout for obituaries of prominent Nigerians. With the help of some bank staff, they would link the deceased bank accounts to ascertain the amount in them.

Thereafter, they would clone the dead customer’s SIM cards with which they would carry out online transfer.

Luck ran against the arrested suspects while they were allegedly working on a fresh transaction of N25 million and $22,000 from local and foreign bank accounts in Lagos.

An additional fraudulent transaction of N3 million that had been perfected by the syndicate through a cloned SIM card, was also retrieved by the operatives.

Identities of the deceased are Osita Nwafor, 45; Nwogu Joseph Chika, 36; Anthony Odama, 43; Ikechukwu Nkem,32; James Okonkwo, 51; Adedio Paulinus, 29 and Ogundepo Olufemi, 51.

It was gathered that the suspected leader of the gang, Nwafor, popularly called Ossy, was first arrested in the gang’s hideout, last week, after a technical analysis of the details of the gang and its activities.

During interrogation, Nwafor confessed to having recruited other members in 2019.

He said: “I brought the team together. Everyone has his area of specialisation in the group. We sourced for cases and each and every member has his own role in each of the cases.”

“My role is to source SIM cards and account numbers. When I have done my part, I would push it to whoever among the members has to play the next role and that is how we treat our cases.”

“Chike (Nwogu) sourced for foreign and local accounts. He was working on the transfer of a $220,000 fresh transaction from a foreign bank before he was arrested.”

“I don’t know anything about how he does that, I simply hand over to Chike. He has his connections and they work on percentage. Once they agree on the percentage, when the money comes, everybody gets his share.”

Others disclosed that they worked with local and international banks insiders. One of the banks’ insiders as gathered, was arrested in Lagos while another bank staff based in Benin, Edo State, was said to have bolted when he got wind of the arrest of members of the gang.

The suspects made revelations on how James Okonkwo, a close ally of Nwafor,(the gang’s coordinator) allegedly had a brawl, following allegations that the former kept N8 million from a recent transaction by the gang, to himself.

Vanguard gathered that the suspects had been transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS for further investigations and prosecution.

About Dotun Olanibi

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