Hackers Stole Over 1bn From 575 Accounts— Bank Official

A Union Bank official, Olusegun Falola, on Friday, told the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that 575 of its customers’ accounts lost N1.4 billion to hackers.

Falola identified the offenders as Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, Ngene Joshua Dominic, and Abdulmalik Salau.

He added that the fraudulent transactions took place between September 19 and October 21, 2022.

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Falola told Justice Tijjani Ringim that Salau had once been investigated by the police for various fraudulent practices to the tune of “hundreds of millions of naira.”

The witness claimed as part of his testimony during the trial of Atumeyi the Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Salau a former staff of the bank, and Dominic.

Atumeyi was standing trial alongside Dominic and Salau on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N1.4 billion.

The trio were being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At the resumption of proceedings on Friday Falola, an Internal Auditor and Team Lead, General Investigations, Union Bank Plc, was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN.

Falola told the court that there were illegitimate transactions on the accounts of 575 customers of the bank, some of which had a “No-debit” restriction.

Falola said:

The sum of N1.38 billion was the total credit moved into Fav Oil & Gas Ltd. And as of the time of noticing it, the balance left was N519 million, implying that over N800 million had been dissipated from the account of Fav Oil & Gas.

“From Atus Homes Ltd., over N681 million was the alleged fraudulent sum credited to the account.

“At the time of discovery, the balance in the account was N70.2 million, implying that over N600 million had been dissipated.”

However, when asked by Oyedepo if it was possible to take money from accounts with a no-debit order without verification, Falola said “no.”

The bank official held that in normal banking operations, it was not possible to take money from such accounts without verification.

He said:

The accounts were on ‘Post No Debit, PND;’ and no staff member of the bank will be able to debit such accounts except there is an approval, which will in turn lead to the modification of such accounts to allow for debit posting.

“From internal reviews, we noticed that these modifications were done through the back-end, and that could only be done by someone with IT skills.

“And there were no documents from the bank supporting the modification.”

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