Financial crimes thrive where fraudsters are protected. But who is a fraudster and who are their shields? He (not gender sensitive) is a person who deceives one or more people in order to get money. In other words, a fraudster steals by trick. What is stolen has varied today from money in cash to valuable that can be converted or exchanged into cash. A telephone recharge card, for instance, is convertible to cash because of its worth of airtime.
Fraudsters are human beings not ghosts. Therefore, they are not invincible. They have names and reside among the people. They have contact addresses directly through post and indirectly through emails, telephones and bank accounts. They even carry out their daily activities as if they are law abiding citizens. But in fact, they circumvent and disobey the law. In Nigeria, Section 419 of the Criminal Code punishes fraudulent activities and hence its violation by fraudsters as make Nigerians see the criminals involved as 419 men.
Who are the shields for fraudsters? They are: (i) the victims who refuse to report or expose them; (ii) the law enforcement agencies who slack in their responsibilities; (iii) the persons (corporate or individual) impersonated in crimes who take such issues as inevitable or act of God; (iv) the lawyers who defend criminals for pecuniary reasons; and (v) the highly placed in the society who believe that their family names should not be rubbished before the general public. I think that I am not a shield to fraudsters as I am always prepared to expose them.
By their actions, they bring embarrassment, pain and sorrow to their victims. The word “victim” in this instance is used to include individuals and corporate organizations. Contact can be physical presence, email, phone call or sms. The short story below will show how Airtel Nigeria Ltd, Keystone Bank and UBA Bank have been implicated by fraudsters.
I received on my phone Thursday, March 15, 2012 morning a message from Airtel’s 111 customer service care number. It read: “For using 10% airtime on Airtel 2Good. You have been compensated with N2m with Batch No A17. Contact Mr. Joseph wasiu on 08024167832 for details now!”. Who would have imagined that Airtel’s customer care line would be invaded without the Management being aware of it? Just like the French army doctor, Alphonse Laveran, who discovered that mosquitoes cause malaria in 1880, I was determined to find out the truth. How? By checking for consistency or repetitiveness, it is possible to pin down the fraudsters or operators of Airtel lines for illegal activities.
Well, I contacted Mr. Joseph Wasiu on the stated Airtel line 08024167832. He congratulated me and spoke eloquently on behalf of Airtel Management. He concluded by requesting me to await directives from UBA Bank headquarters in Abuja on how to get my claim transferred. No news came from UBA Bank that day. On Friday, March 16, 2012 I sent an sms to Mr. Joseph. It read: “Mr. Joseph, good day, Sir. I did not hear from UBA as promised yesterday. Will that be possible today? Have a nice day. Mr. Omotayo”. This triggered a chain reaction. Mr. Joseph demanded that I loaded up to N3,000 credit in my phone to get a personal identity number which the bank would use to effect the transfer. I did and reverted to him. He told me to forward any message I received to “432”. Sooner, he sent me an sms that read: “2u 0812715212529991234” which I forwarded as directed.
Then he called immediately and assured that one Mr. Ayo Jacob at UBA headquarters Abuja had been contacted and that I should follow the instructions to be given by UBA Management. Subsequently, an sms from “U.B.A Bank” came. It read: “We the Management of U.B.A Bank has been alerted that N2m should be credited to you today with code I.D. No…WDZ1700-NG. Contact Mr. Ayo Jacob for more info.. Tel: 08124861097”. Co-incidentally, I received other messages from Airtel too like: “Dear subscriber, you have just been credited with 10MB of data”. A flash back provided an enough ground to believe the messages. On Wednesday, March 14, 2012 I travelled to Ado-Ekiti and had used much more Airtel’s air time texting or calling friends and colleagues. So getting such winning information was not impossible, and if “419 men” were involved I should know them, I concluded.
There were further messages from “U.B.A” that read: “Contact Mr. Joseph wasiu for cost of Transfer (C.O.T) charges now N35,000 for N2m or pay half payment of N17,500 only for N1m cost of transfer charges today”. When contacted, Mr. Joseph gave me a choice to choose between Keystone Bank and Ecobank for the C.O.T payment. I chose Keystone bank. He added that I should sms him and Mr. Ayo Jacob as soon as the money was paid. The sms should contain teller No, bank branch, my bank account No and name to effect the transfer. Then an sms from Keystone bank came with the following: “PAY N35,000 FOR N2m C.O.T. CHARGES ONLY. TO AIRTEL WINNING CLAIMS DEPT CHIEF ACCOUNT OFFICER’S PAYMENT INFO ACCOUNT NO: 2052191559. ACCOUNT NAME: ONI DANIEL. BANK NAME: KEYSTONE BANK”. I went as directed and paid into the said account at Keystone Bank, Opposite Dunlop, Oba Akran, Ikeja with teller No.1535070. To my surprise, the print out from the bank showed a new account No: 6016347885 but with the name of account, Oni Daniel, unchanged.
After paying the said N35,000, I was requested to pay N68,000 to enable U.B.A credit my account: “Contact Mr. Joseph wasiu for payment of C.B.N TAX (V.A.T) charges now N68,000 for N2m to enable us credit your U.B.A account 00720520004165 today”. But I resisted the urge to end the issue there. I informed them I had no more money to pay that day. So I was given a grace to pay in installments over a week ending Friday, March 23, 2012. I have since then been trying to keep their lines functional by pretending to be working on the installment. On Friday, March 23, 2012 I sent various sms like “Mr. Joseph, expect half of VAT money this afternoon & balance next week Thursday”, “Mr. J. first installment of N34,000 VAT paid by a friend in Warri. Regards. Mr. O”, and when Mr. Joseph’s call for teller No. became repetitive another one: “Mr. J, my friend’s line is not reachable now. I sms him to give teller No. and bank branch. Regards. Mr. O”.
Now the issues: (i) By forwarding “2u 0812715212529991234” To “432”, I have provided the fraudsters an opportunity to transfer N2999 Airtel credit from my line to Airtel line 08127152125. This was confirmed with the following sms from “432”: “Ref ID: C120316.0908.310018. You have sent N2999 NGN to 8127152125” received on Friday, March 16, 2012.
(2) Did all the organizations (Airtel, U.B.A Bank and Keystone Bank) so listed know of the deal or had insiders in the fraudulent exercise. Unless we are prepared to disclose the identities of fraudsters, they will continue to operate. They will continue to embarrass individuals and corporate organizations. I still do not know how to pin down the false face acting on U.B.A bank. But with Airtel and Keystone bank, I have some leads: The said Mr. Joseph Wasiu operates an Airtel line 08024167832. With sim card registration, the identity of the said Mr. Joseph Wasiu is not hidden from Airtel. The registered Airtel line to which my N2999 credit was transferred, 08127152125, must have been registered with Airtel too. Mr. Ayo Jacob’s line, 08124861097, is also Airtel’s. Their photographs, finger prints and home addresses are in Airtel’s data base. The Customer Care Service line, 111, used for the sms was Airtel’s.
With the foregoing, it is impossible for the Management of Airtel to claim that there is not enough information to track down these fraudsters. I leave the Management of Airtel to carry out their in-house investigation and disclose publicly the identities of these fraudsters or hand them over to law enforcement agencies.
The account’s name to which the money was paid was opened with Keystone Bank. The picture of the account’s owner, his signature, home address, NEPA (PHCN) bill, phone number, Driver’s Licence or National Identity Card, etc must have been deposited with the bank while opening the account. If the Management of Keystone bank does not support fraudulent activities, this is the time to open up and disclose the true identity of Mr. ONI DANIEL with account No: 6016347885 publicly.
(3) Will Airtel and Keystone Bank Managements protect the identities of those involved in this fraudulent practice? If they do, either individually or collectively, Nigerians should see them as a part of a fraudulent group or network operating in Nigeria. Will it not be proper to ask that their operating licenses be withdrawn to mitigate financial crimes in Nigeria?
(4) Is Airtel not negligent enough as an Information Technology service provider to allow her Customer Care Service line, 111, to be used by fraudsters to commit financial crimes in Nigeria? Does the invasion of their Customer Care Service line, 111, not a pointer to the possibility of Airtel’s customers’ lines being invaded without any difficulty? Who then will be liable; the unassuming customer whose line has been invaded and used for crime or Airtel that provides the services or both? There are definitely many questions to ask but of time, I wish to stop here.
As usual, I welcome criticism(s) and comment(s) either publicly or privately or both. Those criticizing must arm themselves with facts lest they become targets for another critical review.
My email address remains: jaomotayo2(at)yahoo.co.uk and my phone 08023235563.
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