Ten suspected fraudsters who specialised in defrauding their victims by swapping their mobile phone SIM cards, through which they would have access to their banking details, have been arrested by operatives of the Oyo State Police Command.
Speaking while parading the suspects at the state police command headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan on Thursday, the state Commissioner of Police, Shina Olukolu said that operatives of the command went into investigation immediately a report was made by the Security Manager of Airtel Network Limited, one Adeniyi Ige to the police that the company had been receiving complaints from customers on the withdrawal of various amounts from their bank accounts through fraudulent SIM swapping.
Olukolu stated that among the complaints was the withdrawal of N180,000 from the account of Professor Olapade O. James, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan.
The withdrawal from the professor’s account occurred on February 21, after the loss of signal on his mobile phone line.
The police boss stated further that when the network was restored, the professor started receiving notification alerts from his bank via email.
“Other complainants included one Godwin Unigbe, whose N3 million was withdrawn from his account using the same modus operandi; while Benjamin Udo Bassey lost N460,000 to the syndicate.
“Internal investigation conducted by Airtel Network Limited, however, traced the SIM swapping fraud to ISON BPO, a call centre network service providers, including Airtel Network, located in Ibadan, the state capital, and this led to the arrest of three ISON staff directly involved in the fraudulent acts, namely: Omotayo Azeez, Olufade Abdulgafar and Shiyanbola Harry.
“Further investigations led to the arrest of seven others, including Adesina Peter, Odugbesan Gbenga, Efiong Udofia, Arowosegbe Adewale, Adesanlu Kayode, Onasile Abiola, and the only female among them, Temitope Fatai.”
Olukolu said the suspects had confessed to the crime and would be charged to court soon.
While speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, one of the suspects, Abdulgafar (33), confessed to the crime.
He said he got to know about the workings of mobile phone technology while working with ISON BPO, which serves some network service providers.
He said all members of the syndicate had their roles in each of the operations carried out.
The police also arrested two Fulani men, Danneri Mohammed and Abubakar Woru, who allegedly attacked a businessman, Abduraheem (surname withheld) on the road Ayemojuba village, via Saki, while returning from the market on March 25.
The Commissioner of Police said that the suspects chopped-off the businessman’s left hand with a machete and also inflicted machete cuts on his head and face before dispossessing him of N3.1 million.
Olukolu stated that the victim was later rescued by some road users while he was writing in his blood, and the incident was reported at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operational base in Saki.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that the suspects were arrested on April 12 after investigations by the SARS operatives.
While speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, the victim said the March 25 attack was the third time he would be robbed, with millions of naira stolen from him.
He said the first time was in 2007 when N8 million was stolen from him while he was on his way to buy goods in Saki.
“The second time, in 2014, I was robbed of N4 million after the criminals attacked me. During the last attack, they chopped off my left hand before taking the money, to prevent me from struggling with them.
“I am not the owner of the money; I sell clothing materials, including fairly-used clothes, and whenever I was going to buy goods, other traders would also contribute money and we would buy together.
“We didn’t know that the suspects, who also work in the market and know the plans by traders, were responsible for the attacks.
“This last time, they even tried to kill me, as they inflicted machete cuts on my head as well, before chopping off my hand,” Abduraheem said.
The police commissioner also showed journalists a suspected cultist, Alabede Usman, popularly known as Jagaban, who was arrested by operatives of SARS, led by CSP Olusola Aremu, during a clash between Aiye and Eiye confraternity members at Ijokodo area of Ibadan on April 8.
He said when the SARS operatives got to the scene of the clash, a member of Aiye was found dead, while some had sustained injuries.
“The suspect was, however, arrested with a blood-stained knife and two cartridges, and he will be charged to court upon completion of the investigation into his case,” Olukolu said.
While speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, Usman confessed to being a member of Aiye confraternity but denied that he was the owner of the knife and cartridges linked with him.