CID stops GH₵326m bank theft

The Financial Forensics Unit (FFU) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has arrested 12 suspects in the biggest ever cybercrime burst in recent history.

A circuit court last Friday remanded 11 out of the 12 suspects into police custody to reappear on August 9, 2018, as investigations continue.

Friday evening, another suspect was arrested, bringing the total number to 12.

The suspects, believed to be part of a wider cybercrime syndicate made of Nigerians and Ghanaians, attempted transferring a whopping GH₵326 million from the vault of the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) electronically.

The bank detected that the amount was transferred electronically into the internal operational accounts of UMB and subsequently credited to the accounts of certain customers.

UMB, having suspected that its Information Technology Security infrastructure has been tampered with, quickly alerted the Financial Forensics Unit of the CID, who dispatched personnel to all branches to withdraw money from identified accounts credited with the money.

It was discovered that the accounts that the monies were credited to were all single-purpose accounts opened purposely to receive the stolen money, and UMB quickly flagged all the accounts.

Each account was credited with between GH₵10 million and GH₵5 million.

It has emerged that even before the matter was reported to the police, about GH₵1 million of the money had been withdrawn from some of the accounts through Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates using internationally accepted credit cards.

Meanwhile, UMB has issued a statement, touting the significant infrastructural investments made into the bank’s operational systems and the bank’s technical and security teams contributed in no small measure to averting the theft.

It said the Bank remains resilient and very committed to working with the security forces to clean the environment of any form of cyber miscreants.

“UMB wishes to extend its appreciation to the Ghana Police Service for their professionalism and tactful recommendations in our collaborative efforts towards the execution of the exercise,” the statement said.

“We wish our valued customers a fruitful new week,” it added.

UMB is a full-service financial institution specialising in customised banking products and services.

It opened on March 15, 1972, and is a leading Ghanaian indigenous bank with considerable financial expertise.