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EFCC nabs 3 bankers over money transfer scam

Posted by By Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye on 2007/01/22 | Views: 875 |

EFCC nabs 3 bankers over money transfer scam

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has burst a Western Union Money Transfer syndicate that has been siphoning peoples money into their private accounts.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has burst a Western Union Money Transfer syndicate that has been siphoning peoples money into their private accounts.

In a swift twist however, the management of the bank said it was the bank that actually alerted the operatives of the alleged fraud. Mr. Jide Ogundele, the bank’s Head of Brand Communication said it was actually the management of the bank that invited EFCC to investigate the fraud. But EFCC was quick to disclaim the position.

The suspected lead members of the gang are three staffers of the Oshodi/Mile Two branch of the First Bank of Nigeria. They include the Head of Banking Operations, Mrs. Adewolu Olanike, Mrs. Akinmiyade Jokotola, the Western Union Money Transfer operative and the cashier, Mrs. Onyinyechi Ehme.

Found in their possession were 28 international passports, 43 driver’s licenses and some National Identity cards which they were picked up with on January 17 following a petition to the commission. Detectives from EFCC stormed the bank and notified the bank managers of their presence. They were given permission to conduct investigations in the bank premises.

Saturday Sun gathered that Adewolu ordered Jokotola to clear her desk of any incriminating effects. Jokotola, who is in charge of Western Union threw a waterproof bag containing the fake documents to Ehme the cashier. But unfortunately and unknown to them, an EFCC operative was standing in front of Ehime. The detective intercepted the bag in the air and emptied its content. Fake documents with different names and addresses were discovered. The three women were immediately whisked to the Ikoyi premises of the EFCC.

EFCC, however disclosed that Mrs. Ehme had previously been arrested thrice in connection with Western Union money fraud.
An EFCC operative who pleaded anonymity gave an insight into how the group operates: “We have had several petitions from people who claimed that they were unsuccessful in collecting their money through First Bank’s Western Union. We discovered that it would be difficult for a stranger to collect another person’s money if there is no mole in the bank.

Investigation showed that the fake identity cards were used to impersonate the original owners of the money. Only the sender, the bank and the receiver have access to the Western Union information. Once the workers in the bank get the information, they would prepare false documents in the receiver’s name and call a member of their syndicate to come and collect the money before the owner arrives”.

The office of the operatives noted further that their move into First Bank arose from constant complaints from customers whose monies have been stolen or declared missing by the bank. EFCC added that before this onslaught, it had made contacts with and got clearance from the international money transfer body to clampdown on the bank.

The trio are however denying the allegations against them. Akinmoyade, who has worked with the bank for 21 years and in the Western Union department for eleven years claimed that the passports and identity cards found in her possession belonged to customers of the bank.

She said: “All the passports and identity cards found with me belong to my customers. Most of them forgot them with me after their transactions. Most of them know that their IDS cards are with me. I called some of them and they asked me to help them keep it.

I told the head of banking operations, Mrs. Adewolu, that the ID cards were forgotten with me. Some people have come to collect theirs. Others are still keeping their international passports with me because they belief it is safe. I also see it as a way to lure customers to come back to the bank so as to meet my target. When operatives of the EFCC came on Friday morning, Adewolu called me and warned that I should hide the bag containing the documents so that men of the EFCC would not see it. I threw the bag to the cashier to hide but it was intercepted by a detective.

The cashier, Onyinyechi Ehme, who has worked in the bank for three and half years denied being a member of the syndicate. She said: “I don’t know anything about all the passports and ID cards found with my boss. All I know is that the Head of Banking Operations asked my immediate boss, Mrs. Akinmoyade to hide it in her table. She threw me a bag but I was not concentrating because I was attending to a customer.

An EFCC operative collected the bag and emptied the contents. I only deal with the photocopy Akinmoyade gives to one. She does not give me the original passport or ID card because she does the photocopy herself.
The photocopier is behind her cubicle in the office. She is my boss and I have had no cause to doubt whatever photocopy she gives me, once I have a copy of the document, I pay the owner of the money.
“I have never refused to pay any money she ordered me to pay. When customers forget their passports or documents, Akinmoyade keeps it for them”.

An investigator with the Commission however said that if customers actually forgot their documents, it should be forwarded to customer care. He said: “we also observed that Akinmoyade has over 80 percent of the number of the passports in her phone. If customers actually forgot their passports and ID cards, how come she is in possession of their numbers and is on a friendly basis with them. She called one Emeka in our presence, claiming that he is one of the owners of the international passports”.

The head of banking operations, Mrs. Adewolu Olanike, who was granted bail on the January 18 because she is heavily pregnant also claimed ignorance. In her statement, she said: “I don’t know anything about the International passports and ID cards. I only told them to tidy up because EFCC operatives were around”.

Daily Sun had earlier in 2005 reported two cases of Western Union scam in First Bank. On May 30, 2005, Daily Sun’s lead story, ‘Dollar Scam’ told of how one Mr. Chuks Murry Okoye got swindled of the $2,800 sent to him from his friend living in the United States. Another man however went to the Oba Akran branch with Okoye’s particulars to collect the money.
Another Mrs. Cecilia Dum got defrauded of her 11,000 Euros sent to her via Western Union through the same bank.

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Comments (2)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown