Fraudsters hack ex-senator’s phone, friends lose millions of naira

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On Saturday, millions of naira were lost by friends of former federal lawmaker Tokunbo Afikuyomi to fraudsters who previously compromised the politician’s WhatsApp number in Lagos.

Afikuyomi claims that after seizing control of the app’s usage, the criminal elements wrote to his connections, pleading for financial assistance on his behalf.

While some of the friends were shrewd enough to warn him, others responded to the plea for assistance by sending different sums of money to the account numbers that the criminal gang had supplied.

Recounting his ordeal in a statement, the ex-lawmaker said, “Yesterday morning (January 13), some scammers hacked my phone line and temporarily seized control of my WhatsApp messages. They then sent fraudulent messages to some of my contacts requesting that they transfer some money on my behalf.

“Many of my friends quickly called me up on the regular phone while some others spoke with my aides to alert me.However, unfortunately, a few others did not suspect that anything was wrong. They innocently complied with the fake request and made transfers of millions of naira to the various account numbers in different banks supplied by the scammers.”

Aware of the danger that lurked ahead, Afikuyomi said he quickly alerted the relevant authourities to track the fraudsters and reveal their identities.

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He continued, “I immediately complained to the relevant security and regulatory agencies and I thank the anti-fraud unit of the police for springing into action immediately.

“Their efforts led to identifying some of the account numbers and the details of the respective owners through which the scammers collected various sums of money. The security agents are also already deploying technology to geo-locate the perpetrators. Investigations by relevant agencies are still ongoing.

“Meanwhile, I have suspended the use of my WhatsApp number till the authorities can conclude their investigations and I can now put more security measures in place to protect the line. I can only be reached through regular phone calls on the same number,” he added.

Expressing displeasure with the nation’s banking system, Afikuyomi wondered how it was possible for scammers to have succeeded in fraudulently opening accounts for the sole purpose of defrauding others.

“I must at this stage express my dismay with the lack of due diligence in the bank account opening and maintenance system in our country. This is what has come out so far in the investigation of this phone hacking scam.

“The scammers opened so many bank accounts without supplying the banks with the necessary security checks and details required by the law. In the same manner, it is now obvious that some of the Over Top Media Services providers do not fully comply with the provision of Nigeria’s Data Privacy and Protection Laws,” he added even as he vowed to go the whole distance in helping relevant agencies to smash the syndicate.

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“I hereby express my determination to do everything within the law to smash this evil syndicate that has brought pain and tears to many people within Nigeria and those in the diaspora.

“Let me use this opportunity to thank everyone whose prompt response is helping to reduce the impact of this weekend scam. The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, Director General of the National Financial Intelligence Agency, Modibo Hamman Tukur, and the Deputy Governor (Corporate Services), Central Bank of Nigeria, Bala Bello, deserve special mention for their efforts in unveiling the perpetrators of this crime.

“This crime is an indication of the perilous times that we live in when the technology that was invented to make life easy for all of us has also become a source of endangering our lives and properties.

“We therefore need to be more careful, cautious, and discerning in responding to some of the messages being sent to us purportedly by our acquaintances. It is usually good to double-check the supposed source of the message, particularly if it involves a request for a transfer of money.

“This is the reality of the new age of technology in which we live. It has come with its impersonal, impassioned, distrustful, and distasteful challenges,” he further said.

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About the Author: Olusola Sorinmade

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