A staff of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, in the Office of Legal Attache US Consulate, Lagos, Ayotunde Solademi, on Wednesday gave evidence in court on how a defendant, Uchenna Justice Igwegbe, engaged in online scam with a well known criminal, Obinna Kelvin Obioha, arrested and jailed in US for multi million dollar fraud.
The second prosecution witness testified before Justice Sherifat Solebo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos, that the defendant supplied bank accounts to Obinna Kelvin Obioha for defrauding unsuspecting members of the public abroad and in Nigeria.
According to the witness, who investigated and analysed communications between the defendant and Obinna, Solademi said the analysed communication found in Obinna’s seized devices revealed that Uchenna Justice Igwegbe, took on the role of a ‘Bomber’.
According to him, a ‘bomber’ is just one of the different roles online scammers play in pursuit of fraudulent activities.
“My Lord in general, when it comes to online fraud or scam, the fraudsters work differently.”
The expert in fraud investigation reveals, “Some are called shooters, others are called bombers, some others provide accounts, while others are pickers, and so many other specialisation.
He further said, “From the conversations between the defendant and Obinna, it can be deduced that the defendant provides bank accounts.
His words, “So usually when the bomber or the owner of the job that they call it has gotten to the point whereby the victim is to make payment, he reach out to either the middle man who knows the people that have account.
“He asked for the bank accounts, and he can be specific on the victim and the amount of money involved. He can be specific, on the bank, country and the type of account.”
Giving the highlight of his explanation, the FBI investigator, said “In the conversation between the defendant and Obinna, the defendant was providing bank accounts tailored to the need of Obinna in perpetrating online scam, he said.
Explaining further, the FBI investigator said the crime was discovered as a result of a joint operation with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, codenamed ‘REWIRED’.
He said “Between February 2016 to August 2016, the defendant sent five bank accounts to Obinna.
“One of those bank accounts where used to facilitate funds to Obinna, totalling $188,791.
Giving a narration as to how the scam was perpetrated, he said “Upon interview of Obinna and forensic analysis of his mobile devices, Obinna was into online scam which include insurance fraud, credit card theft, identity theft, online dating extortion and BEC.
“It was also discovered that the defendant was in communication with Obinna, for specifically the transmission of US and foreign bank accounts which were used to facilitate funds.
Reiterating his testimony, while being led in evidence by EFCC Counsel, Ahmed Yerima, Solademi said, “My Lord, Business Email Compromise, BEC, is a type of online scam whereby key employers of companies that have foreign clients and also do online transfers are targeted.
“The fraudster hack into the email account of the target employee and they monitor the email communication between the company and their clients.
“When it is time for the company to either make payment to their clients or receive payment from their clients, the fraudster create a fake, or cloned the mail that look like that of the company, or the client, and they send email either to the company of the client, telling them a change in the bank account that the company is to pay into, and the said company account, either of the company or client and if the company or the client does not notice that the email is actually fake, the money is sent to the acount and immediately the fraudsters withdraw the money sent into the account.”
Under cross examination of the witness by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Victor Okpara, the witness said though he was not at the scene of arrest of Obinna, he stated that Obinna was the ‘Bomber’.
He hinted that while he was not also present when electronic gadgets of Obinna were analysed, he told the court that the WhatsApp communications were forwarded to him.
He said that the totality of the funds from the BEC, was $937,073.00.
Uchenna Justice Igwegbe, amongst other offences, is accused of facilitating “the fraudulent obtaining of funds from unsuspecting members of the public totaling the sum of $937,073.00.”
The offences are contrary to Section 17 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Act, 2004 and Section 1 (1)(a) and 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Fraud Offences Act 2006.