How Fidelity Bank workers hacked database, stole N874m from cloned 22 ATM cards – EFCC witness tells Court

Fidelity Bank branch

A prosecuting witness, Peter Ige, has told the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja how some staff of Fidelity Bank allegedly stole N874m from the bank’s customers within three days.

Ige, who is an Information System Auditor with Fidelity Bank, testified as the second prosecuting witness and was presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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 N874million, according to a statement by the EFCC, on Wednesday.

The anti-graft agency also tendered more exhibits against the defendants, including a DVD of the bank’s CCTV footage.

The defendants are: Olusegun Babasola, Abisola Ahmed, Uchechukwu Uma, Jude Aphaeus, and a non-staff of the bank, Omidiji Joseph.

The defendants are being prosecuted by the EFCC on two counts for their various roles in the alleged hacking of the bank’s database and cloning of more than 22 ATM cards used to steal and divert to personal use about N874million belonging to five of the bank’s 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.

Ige told the court on Wednesday 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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