New face of theft! Crime kingpin reveals how his gang empties Nigerians’ First Bank accounts, others

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New face of theft! Crime kingpin reveals how his gang empties Nigerians’ First Bank accounts, others

New face of theft! Crime kingpin reveals how his gang empties Nigerians’ First Bank accounts, others
August 18
04:48 2021

How we stole millions of naira from unsuspecting victims – Suspect

Why First Bank customers are particularly vulnerable

If banking is the art of passing currency from hand to hand until it finally disappears, then Zakarriyah Yahaya aka His Excellency, may have just perfected the art of disappearing depositors’ funds from banks’ accounts – notably First Bank and some other banks

Yahaya is a perfect symbol of the proverbial thief who assumes comradeship with darkness in order to perfect his scores on innocent victims. Yet given enough rope, he eventually wound it around his neck in a suicidal swirl that left his feet dangling.

Had he known, he wouldn’t have operated outside the cover of darkness. But Yahaya is simply one factor in a slew of odds rendering several Nigerian customers vulnerable by their banks’ insecure online platforms.

Nobody trusts a bank that would expose its customers to great risk. Thus the recent arrest of Yahaya, on Monday, has been hailed as a worthy achievement by the Nigerian Police.

The 46-year-old suspect, sang like a canary, revealing how he and his gang emptied the bank accounts of several Nigerians using lost or stolen SIM cards

Yahaya, who was among the 39 suspects paraded for various crimes at the defunct headquarters of the outlawed Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Abuja, by the Nigerian Police, explained that the bank accounts of many Nigerians receiving alerts are easy to access by using their account and phone numbers.

The suspects were arrested across the country by the Force Investigation Bureau of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by Tunji Disu, who took over recently from the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari.

Speaking to journalists, the suspect said, “My name is Zakarriyah Yahaya, I was born and brought up in Jos. I was arrested last month in Mabushi here in Abuja. I used to reset any SIMs that receive bank alert. I will reset it and steal all the money inside the bank account.

“I do reset it with victim’s bank account number through bank code from the first to the last number. Any bank that we get, we first use it to buy recharge cards, from there, they will send us the alert. From the alert, we will now get the account number.”

According to him, he and his gang focused on First Bank and some other bank customers because their online transaction details are easy to reset.

He disclosed that they started the job in the last two years and no fewer than eleven members of the gang are working for him, adding that they are operating in three main cities: Kano, Plateau and Abuja.

He said he could not recall the exact numbers of bank accounts they’d stolen from but they had once removed N800,000 from one of the accounts.

Police spokesman, Frank Mba said Yahaya and cohorts usually acquire SIM packs in large numbers and re-activate old phone numbers that people don’t use again – so doing, they access several customers’ bank details.

“They have two main modus operandi: The first is to go and purchase or acquire MTN lines, the new starter kits in large numbers. When they get these, they tried to hack BVN. Experience has shown them that at this stage, some of our service providers are recycling old numbers. Persons who had used phones and probably for some reasons have travelled out of the country, or for any other reason chose not to use the number again, and those numbers are dormant and currently being recycled and being re-issued to persons as new numbers.

“They are very skillful and they have ways of knowing or decoding old numbers. So, when they put on their MTN starter packs, and they are given options to select numbers, they select old numbers, and at random, they tried to explore and see if they could get bank details from those old numbers.”

Mba revealed that the culprits also attack their victims physically in order to dispossess them of their phones and acquire their SIM cards. So doing, they hurt innocent citizens both physically and financially.

“Once they get these phones, their target is not the phone, no matter how expensive your phone is, they are not interested in that phone, that’s not the main target. That could actually be a by-product or a side benefit from the crime, but the major target is your SIM card.

“And once they get your SIM card, they tried to play around with it, and see if they could find anything that can link them or take them straight into victims’ accounts, and they had done these successfully.

“With that, if they get access to your bank details, they go straight to steal your money. The lesson for all of us here is that we must guide our phones jealously. Even when you lose a phone or a number and you think you’ve got two or three other numbers or lines, don’t let your number go back to strange hands, go back to your service providers and do all that’s necessary, re-activate and re-claim your lines.”


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