First Bank Staff Defraud Customers, Hides From Law Enforcement Agents

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First Bank Staff Defraud Customers, Hides From Law Enforcement Agents
First Bank Staff Defraud Customers, Hides From Law Enforcement Agents

First Bank, a Nigerian financial institution with a ₦829 billion market valuation, has commenced legal proceedings to retrieve “massive quantities of money” purportedly embezzled by a staff member at a head office branch located in Iganmu, Lagos. These cash were allegedly transferred to 98 bank accounts—including his wife’s—that were identified as first recipients by the now-fugitive employee.

2024 and obtained three court orders between April 4-8, 2024 to block hundreds of bank accounts belived to have received the stolen funds.

Three people with direct knowledge of the incident told the local news brand that while the initial amount discovered to be diverted was around ₦12 billion, it now stands at around ₦40 billion ($29 million).

The bank received three court orders between April 4 and 8, 2024, to block hundreds of bank accounts that were thought to have received the stolen monies after reporting the event to the Nigerian Police Force on March 25, 2024. While the original money found to be diverted was approximately ₦12 billion, three persons with intimate knowledge of the event told the local news brand that it currently stands at approximately ₦40 billion ($29 million).

According to a First Bank employee with knowledge of the situation, the employee, named in court records as Tijani Muiz Adeyinka, was permitted to handle client reversals in her capacity as a manager on the electronic products team. It implied that he was in charge of an account from which he could credit merchant accounts and handle such reversals.

Continuing on the banking and finance news, instead, Muiz reportedly utilised that power to credit consumer requests for reversals to a merchant under his control. He purportedly did not require any more authorizations because he was the team’s final line of authorization, which allowed him to continue misappropriating client monies for nearly two years without being discovered.

However, his plot was eventually uncovered when a client filed a complaint, which was then forwarded to the internal control department of the bank. After identifying multiple questionable transactions, the control unit informed the authorities.

A letter from Firstbank to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, dated May 10, 2024, stated “We hereby bring to your notice the discovery of fraudulent transactions into various transactions within and outside the bank and request your good offices to set up the machinery of investigation in place with a view to unravel the circumstances surrounding the said fraud and get the culprits apprehending to face the wrath of the law.”

An inquiry for remarks was not immediately answered by a Nigerian Police Force spokeswoman. An inquiry for remarks was not answered by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokeswoman.

The Police officer in charge of investigating the case in a statement signed March 26, 2024, disclosed “I discovered that one Muiz Tijani Adeyinka, a former staff of First Bank was involved in the nefarious posting of fraudulent transactions.”

It further stated, “It was discovered that he made some fraudulent transactions to his wife’s account number (name withheld) domiciled with Zenith Bank, which in turn transferred to other beneficiaries totaling thirty-four accounts which also gave birth to second beneficiaries domiciled with other banks totaling 1,190 accounts.”

First Bank did not disclose the amount of money that was taken in any of the numerous court filings or complaints. Along with requesting that the Police “unravel the circumstances surrounding the fraud,” it remained mute on how the money was acquired.

Fraud is still a major problem in Nigeria’s financial services sector, even though there was a decrease in incidents reported in Q1 2024. The largest banks in the nation are frequently the target of fraud assaults, despite fintech firms garnering disproportionate attention. According to a story from our local brand news, Fidelity Bank lost ₦2.5 billion in three incidences and Access Bank lost ₦6.15 billion due to fraud in 2023.

On April 8, a Federal High Court in Lagos issued an order to First Bank, blocking the bank accounts of the first and second beneficiaries of the cash received illegally. The bank also received further orders to restrict further accounts thought to be connected to the event, dated April 8 and May 5, from high courts in Jalingo and Lagos.

An anonymous email revealing the bank accounts of numerous cryptocurrency traders claimed that one of the initial beneficiary accounts spent some of the stolen money to purchase the stablecoin USDT from others. Local news brand received the email. These traders denied knowing the money they got was scam proceeds and insisted that their sole role was selling USDT. As of the time of this article, they were embroiled in a legal dispute with the bank over account limits.