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Hackers Sentenced To 3 Years Imprisonment For Defrauding British Airways, Two Other Airlines

A court in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria sentenced two Nigerians for defrauding three foreign airlines including the British Airways.

Two Nigerians have been sentenced to three years imprisonment for defrauding three foreign airlines – the Dutch airline Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V (KLM), British Airways, and Turkish Airlines- the sum of $750,000 and N120 million.

Tobiloba Bakare and Alimi Sikiru, who were tried in the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja, were  sentenced to three years imprisonment by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, after they pleaded guilty to six counts, bordering on conspiracy to retain and retaining stolen items, filed against them by the Nigerian anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The two fraudsters were said to have been under investigation since Sept.2020, after the EFCC received a report on suspicious transactions and money laundering about them.

The initial investigation had led to one Kehinde Adelakun, who was later convicted in Oct. 2020.

According to Idris Mohammed, the prosecuting counsel, Alimi Sikiru’s name, in addition with his company, Alvine First Resources Ventures, had also come up in the investigation, along with his corporate accounts with Polaris Bank and First Bank.

“Upon analysis of the two accounts belonging to the second defendant (Sikiru), several inflows were discovered from different companies between March and July 2020 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and further analysis of the accounts showed that there was a balance of N196,741,261.82 and N9.3million was retained in the Sterling Bank and Polaris Bank accounts of the second defendant,” Mohammed said.

Mohammed also told the court that Bakare had been implicated when Sikiru admitted to receiving a majority of the money found in his accounts from him.

Bakare, according to the prosecutor, had then confessed to the crime of business email compromise fraud, adding that he did in fact, hack into the emails of the affected airlines.

“When the first defendant was confronted, he admitted that he was into business email compromise fraud between 2009 and 2020 and that he hacked into the emails of KLM, Turkish Airlines and British Airways,” he said.

Mohammed also told the court that Bakare and Sikiru had benefited the sum of $750,000 and N120 million respectively, adding that one Dayo Bamgbose, now deceased, was equally involved in the crime.

“In the cause of perpetrating the said fraud, he benefited the total sum of $750,000, while the second defendant also benefited the sum of N120 million through his conspirator, Dayo Bamgbose, who resides in Texas, USA, but is now deceased,” the prosecutor told the court.

The prosecutor also told the court that while the first defendant, Bakare had acquired properties with his loot, he equally stashed the remainder of the funds in the second defendant, Sikiru’s account.

After the facts of the case were reviewed, the presiding judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced the defendants to three years imprisonment and ordered that they forfeit the sum of N204,041,216.82 and other properties to the Federal Government.

The forfeited properties are: Mercedes Benz E500; Toyota Hilux 2020 model; five-bedroom duplex on Ibrahim Beto Street, Osapa London, Lekki, Lagos; four-bedroom semi-detached duplex at Ologolo Jakande, Lekki; and a four-bedroom semi-detached duplex on the Southern View Estate, Mayor Court, Chevron Alternative Road, Lekki, Lagos.

Cyber Crimes In Nigeria

In Sept. 2019, the BBC reported that the United State’s FBI had indicted 80 people – 77 of them Nigerians – in what it described as the “largest case of online fraud in US history.” Among them was the infamous Invictus Obi, who was in the year 2016, recognised by Forbes as one of its top 30 African entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

In June 2020, Ramoni Igbadole Abbas, otherwise known as Ray Hushpuppi, was arrested by the Dubai Police for his involvement in cyber fraud, money laundering, hacking, and scamming.

He is currently in custody in the United States, awaiting trial.

In Jan. 2021, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested 10 persons, alleged to be ‘yahoo yahoo’ students learning the dubious skill of internet scamming.

Premium Times reports that the suspects, aged between 20 and 39 years old were at their ‘academy’ in the Bwari axis of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

In May 2019, the EFCC arrested some ‘yahoo yahoo students’, along with their proprietor in the Ojodu Berger area of  Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria.

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Chigozie Victor

Chigozie Victor is a journalist and a creative writer. Her work focuses on SGBV, policy and security infrastructure. The graduate of English and Literature from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka is passionate about helping audiences understand salient issues through clear reporting and multimedia journalism. She tweets at @nwaanyi_manaria

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