Wale Ibironke, who lost N400,000 to a SIM swap fraud accused Etisalat of
complicity in the act. BAYO AKINLOYE reports.
expert, Wale Ibironke, woke up with the mind to send some money to his
sister. But before he would do that he planned to visit any of the
customer care centres of one of Nigeria’s leading telecommunication
Etisalat centre at Ikeja City Mall, in Lagos, was a messy SIM swap fraud
that led to Ibironke’s bank account being cleaned out.
shrewd IT expert thought he understood the risks of online banking. But
to his chagrin, by the end of that day, he would become one of the
latest victims of a growing menace in the country – SIM swap fraud.
working on May 12 this year at about 3.30 pm. Initially, I had thought
it was a network issue and that the signal on my phone would come up
again. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When I realised that a couple
of my colleagues had network service on their lines on Friday (the
following day) I decided to visit the Etisalat Experience Centre at
Ikeja City Mall (Shoprite) on May 14. The Etisalat worker who checked my
phone line to find out what was wrong with it told me that my phone’s
SIM card was damaged. He told me that since it was damaged, the card
would have to be replaced.”
replacement of the SIM card because it was a corporate post-paid line.
He was told by the Etisalat representative to get authorisation from his
organisation’s account officer. Ibironke then realised that he would
have to wait till he got to his office on Monday for the authorisation
to be done. Before Monday however, great damage had been done.
had been withdrawn from my Diamond Bank account. I got the alert
because I receive bank alerts on my second phone number and not the one I
took to Etisalat for repairs. I was helpless. Around 12am the next day,
my phone beeped again with another bank alert that another transfer of
N100,000 from my account had gone to a UBA (United Bank for Africa)
account. By 9.30 am, I got another alert indicating that N100,000 had
left my account for a UBA account. It was obvious that my Etisalat line
which I took for repairs had been swapped,” Ibironke told SUNDAY PUNCH.
been swapped? “Etisalat officials admitted that my line was swapped (by
their staff at the centre?) without being authorised to do so. They said
it was not their fault; that the unauthorised swap was carried out by
one of their third-party suppliers (contractors that they outsourced
some of their services to),” Ibironke stated.
also been depleted with a paltry N500 left. According to the officials
of GTBank whom he contacted later, the withdrawals were made through a
*737* short code service from Ibironke’s Etisalat line.
the Special Fraud Unit, the Nigerian Communications Commission and the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
about my stolen money, they requested that my complaint should be made
formally through my company. On June 6, in a sinister move they
(Etisalat representatives) requested for a meeting with me and some of
my colleagues by sending the mail to a different email address from the
ones we had been using earlier, thus delaying my company’s response to
telephone conference involving two of my colleagues and Etisalat
representatives; Manager, Corporate Sales, Abideen Ojomu; Property and
Litigation Department, Anthony Emioma; and Head of Enterprise Sales,
Olayiwola Akinwunmi,” Ibironke said.
he said, “It was at that meeting that they informed my colleagues and I
that an unauthorised SIM swap was done by a third party agent of theirs
but they wouldn’t be responsible for whatever happened to my bank
account. So we requested that they respond to us officially which they
haven’t done as I speak to you today (July 14). We have sent several
emails to them requesting for an official response but Etisalat has
refused to respond to us.”
called by Etisalat. This time, one of the telecommunication company’s
directors, Eric Uwaoma, was at the meeting. Ibironke’s request that
Etisalat identified the person who swapped his line was ignored. At that
meeting, Uwaoma reportedly offered to compensate Ibironke with N400,000
worth of airtime.
to me which he hasn’t done as I speak. On June 27, after we had sent
another email to Etisalat complaining of their apathy towards the SIM
swap fraud. They requested, again, for another meeting which was
attended by Ojomu and Akinwunmi, where they basically also offered
airtime as compensation. Again, I declined. They left with a promise to
revert to us. They haven’t done that to date,” he said.
of Etisalat Nigeria, Chineze Amanfo, absolved the company of any
wrongdoing. Amanfo told SUNDAY PUNCH that the telecommunication firm did not provide the financial service that led to Ibironke’s bank account being compromised.
investigation into the issues raised by Wale Ibironke concerning his
telephone number, and we confirm that a SIM swap was performed on the
line after the requester provided our customer agent with the prescribed
SIM replacement information.
code *737* is a financial service provided by the customer’s bank and
Etisalat is not responsible for the security of the service and the
transactions carried out using the short code. Etisalat only provides
its network for the service to operate. We are of the view that Mr
Ibironke should take up this issue with his bank for an investigation on
how his account was compromised,” Amanfo said.
SIM swap fraud has become a cause for concern as hackers infiltrate
subscribers’ SIM cards, to steal large sum of money from their bank
accounts. In 2015 alone, the UK lost a total of £755 million to fraud
involving “payment cards, remote banking and cheques”, according to
Financial Fraud Action UK’s latest report.
on frauds perpetrated through the platforms highlighted by FFA-UK, daily
anecdotes and social media conversations reveal that many Nigerians
have been caught in the web of SIM swap fraud.
share my story so as to shed light on the way fraudsters dupe
unsuspecting Nigerians and also to expose the shady Airtel employee who
aided them. My purse with other documents and identity cards were stolen
last year April and as usual, I got an affidavit for it. This year
January, I got a call from Airtel in Ibadan concerning a SIM swap I
wanted to do in Ibadan (I work and live in Lagos). I immediately
informed them that it was a fraud when they told me someone presented to
them one of the ID cards that was stolen.
Ikeja City Mall to report and told them to flag and fortify the security
on my SIM card as my Airtel line is connected to all my bank accounts.
The Airtel employee said they would do something about it,” Oluwo said
in her post.
when her mobile phone beeped to alert her of bank withdrawals of
N400,000 from her account.
absolutely nothing about my stolen money even though they admitted the
scam of N400,000. They neither replied a letter from my lawyer nor
reached out to me after my meeting with them last month (February).
and would want to focus on it till I am back home to do the needful
regarding Airtel. The good news is that GTB has refunded the N400,000
even though the fault was Airtel’s,” she said.
smile soon? Nobody knows. However, the ICT expert has said that he is
determined to get his money back.
me asked if I was sure of the last time the line worked and made a
face. I asked if anything was wrong and he shook his head, advising me
to send an email to my account officer. A thousand and one questions
raced through my mind; what if they had used the line to commit other
serious crimes like kidnapping? Wouldn’t the police arrest me as a
suspect or an accomplice?” he said.