Nigerian crime gang engaged in unemployment scam busted by Ireland operatives

A drop in the ocean is a significant amount of water to a thirsty person.

Source: https://www.icirnigeria.org/nigerian-crime-gang-engaged-in-unemployment-scam-busted-by-ireland-operatives/

AN investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, has uncovered an international crime gang known as Black Axe, masterminded by a Nigerian, which specialises in preying on health workers and has defrauded the State of €183,000 in a pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) scam.

The gang had harvested information from the emails of HSE staff with a target to secure up to €1 million from their elaborate fraud, but only managed to get €183,000, according to a report by Irish Examiner. The information gathered were used to set up bank accounts in online prepaid financial services, while they perfected plans to launder the money.

The trial established that two Nigerians – Oluwagbewikeke Lewis and Bashiru Aderibigbe – aided by two ‘low-level’ Cork-based operatives and technology, engaged in several fraudulent activities where the identities of a sizeable number of HSE or Tusla staff were used to make PUP claims in the first months of the pandemic. The two operatives have been jailed for their parts in the unemployment scam.

Aderibigbe was arrested by Detective Garda Kieran Crowley during what was a relatively routine act of stop-and-search policing in the Midleton area. Having signalled for the driver of a Mercedes to stop, the detective noticed that the driver was acting nervously and he decided to conduct a search for suspected drugs. No drugs were found. However, what was seized became a key part of the PUP fraud investigation.

Two false passports were discovered, two fraudulent bank documents were seized, and two phone SIM cards were located. The SIM numbers would correspond with numbers provided for the setting up of bank accounts for the fraudulent PUP claims. Most significant of all, however, was the seizure of a mobile phone.

Instead of communicating by text message, the criminals had used WhatsApp voice messages instead. These would prove vital in linking the two defendants with each other, linking them with other criminals, and providing vivid accounts of the modus operandi of the gang.

At the time this phone was seized in Midleton, Detective Garda Trevor Conroy, from Wexford and on secondment to the Department of Social Protection, had been examining patterns in suspicious PUP claims. It was later established that email addresses of the unsuspecting victims had been harvested and used to dupe them into providing further personal information that would advance the fraud.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan, confirmed that these health workers were oblivious to the claims that had been filed in their names and the payments made to accounts set up fraudulently from Cork, a country located in South-West Ireland.

A Nigerian interpreter assisted the Bureau to translate a web of WhatsApp recorded phone messages, which provided a unique insight into the workings of Black Axe as it targeted PUP payments. Operatives were also able to identify a number of the parties, including a man believed to be the leader of the criminal organisation known by the nickname ‘The Chairman’, a term of respect used among people involved in such gangs.

In one call, there is a conversation about how €1 million fraudulently claimed in pandemic unemployment payments would be laundered; in another, there is talk of how €30,000 of the proceeds of the Cork-based fraud was being laundered through accounts in Germany.

While fraud investigations typically involve detailed paper trails to follow the money, other policing strategies were involved, including the painstaking analysis of CCTV that could be gathered in coordination with the documented timing of withdrawals from the suspect accounts.

Aderibigbe was seen on security cameras on 22 occasions making withdrawals from the target accounts, in the course of which he pocketed €11,270 in cash from 13 different bank accounts. It was ultimately established in this way that in these 13 accounts, he had access to over €56,000 in cash from the fraudulent PUP claims.

A total of 74 PUP claims were observed in this fast-developing investigation. It was quickly becoming clear that this was a systematic scam, and the monies were being paid into 57 bank accounts. For instance, on August 8, 2020 Aderibigbe was seen on CCTV at the Crestfield Centre in Dooradoyle in Limerick City making one of the withdrawals.

One of the strongest pieces of evidence against his co-accused, Lewis, was the phone seized from him and the audio WhatsApp messages between Lewis and Aderibigbe and other parties.

When arrested, Aderibigbe made no comment during interviews with gardaí. Lewis was later arrested, and he also made no comment to the majority of questions he was asked and examination of WhatsApp messaging made it clear that the two co-accused have been friends for several years.

Detectives were satisfied from their analysis of the audio messaging WhatsApp that Lewis had direct contact with the director of the criminal organisation who was referred to as ‘The Chairman’.

Aderibigbe, 45, of Ballincollig, Co Cork, was sentenced to three and a half years with the final year suspended, while Lewis, 36, of Brookdale, Midleton, Co Cork, was sentenced to four years in prison with the last year suspended.

NBM shuts down some chapters

A zone (South Africa) and a whole region (North America) supposedly shut down (in the public official ceremonial sense) by the NBM and declared infested with bad eggs.

Source: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/11/nbm-shuts-down-some-chapters/

By Boluwaji Obahopo

The ripples caused by allegations brought against some members of NBM of Africa have led to the shutting down of the organization’s activities in its North American and Southern African chapters.

A few weeks ago, there were embarrassing fraud-related allegations against some suspended members of the organization in USA and South Africa.

The Pan-Africanist organization after appraising the situation considered the allegations against the suspended members as not only frightening but also repugnant to its image and sensibilities of its law-abiding members. The organization condemned any form of criminality and fraudulent practice that conflicts with the provisions of its code of conduct and constitution.

NBM also condemned attempts by some media and security organizations to undermine or taint the entire organization with the private actions of a few unscrupulous individuals.

The group’s stance was stated by its spokesman, Mr. Oluwatosin Dixon, while addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday. He stressed that its chapters in North America and Southern Africa would remain shut  until members in the affected regions take steps laid out by NBM’s national body to dissociate itself and redeem its image by assisting security agencies to identify the bad elements amongst them whose activities are against the laws of the host countries and its own creed as provided in section 2 of its constitution. This will be carried out in addition to the profiling of its members in the two Regions. The profiling will determine members with genuine qualifications and conducts as members of the organisation.

He added: “NBM will not allow some unscrupulous persons within and outside the movement to continue to destroy its good image earned over years with a clear focus on its objectives and vision of equity and social justice.”

Interpol Closes in on Global BEC Gang

I hear a few of the bigwigs are more than a little afraid to fly at the moment…

Source: https://thecybersecurity.news/general-cyber-security-news/interpol-closes-in-on-global-bec-gang-14425/

Irish law enforcement have joined forces with Interpol to observe down an arranged crime gang that has by now stolen more than €14m ($16m) from neighborhood businesses and folks via business enterprise email compromise (BEC).

The Garda has been investigating the gang for various several years for a number of really serious fiscal criminal offense offenses. Its 18-thirty day period lengthy Procedure Skein has currently led to the reported arrests of above 400 suspects, but the global nature of cybercrime intended intercontinental policing perform was also essential.

To that stop, Interpol’s World-wide Economical Crime Endeavor Power (IGFCTF) presented on-the-floor guidance to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) final month to enable share intelligence with international forces.

Interpol also assisted Irish police with electronic forensic perform, downloading details and get in touch with documents from seized products and examining the evidence “through a world wide lens.” This has by now triggered cooperative investigations with police in the US and South Africa, Interpol explained.

The investigation has also unveiled backlinks concerning the Eire-primarily based gang and infamous Nigerian crime syndicate Black Axe, which also focuses on BEC scams.

“Arrests and prosecutions outdoors of Ireland are foreseen as ongoing investigations unfold,” Interpol claimed.

BEC has been the maximum-grossing cybercrime class in excess of the previous a few several years, according to the FBI.

Reported crimes led to losses of nearly $1.9bn very last 12 months, off the back again of just 19,000 instances. That amounted to virtually fifty percent the complete for cybercrime losses in 2020. In 2019 it was $1.8bn, and the year ahead of that it was $1.3bn.

The investigation is not only targeting the BEC gang alone but also its international networks of income mules. They’ve presently enabled the team to launder close to €8m ($9m), in accordance to Interpol.

COVID-19 dealt endeavours by banking institutions to track suspicious transactions of this form of blow as essential personnel was sent to function from dwelling, often with out the suitable equipment at their disposal, in accordance to some reports.

According to a BAE Units report in September, 60% of compliance officers from financial institutions believe that that tracking revenue laundering has turn into more difficult in excess of the earlier calendar year.

From Cork to Nigeria: Gang of cybercriminals caught out by their own technology 

Trying to launder a million pounds through 57 bank accounts probably took up 30 mins of their day that day… what else were they doing?

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/munster/arid-40743138.html

On Wednesday, two ‘low-level’ Cork-based operatives were jailed for their part in a pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) fraud masterminded by the head of the Nigerian crime gang, known as Black Axe.

The gang had planned to secure up to €1m from their elaborate fraud, but in the end only managed to get €183,000.

They harvested emails of HSE staff, and people were sent bogus jury summonses requesting further information. That was then used to set up bank accounts from which the PUP claims were made.

During the trial of Oluwagbewikeke Lewis and Bashiru Aderibigbe, it emerged that snaring the fraudsters’ cyber crimes was, ironically, aided by technology.

A web of WhatsApp recorded phone messages gave gardaí a unique insight into the workings of Black Axe as it targeted PUP payments. They were heard discussing how they would launder up to €1m.

A Nigerian interpreter assisted officers from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to translate what was on the recordings, and they were also able to identify a number of the parties, including a man believed to be the leader of the criminal organisation — a man known by the nickname ‘The Chairman’.

This is a term of respect used among people involved in such gangs.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan confirmed that the nature of the fraudulent activity going on in the case had all the hallmarks indicating that it was the work of the Black Axe.

What was of particular interest to gardaí was the phone evidence that showed that one of the two Cork-based defendants was in direct phone contact with a person he referred to as ‘The Chairman’. Det Supt Cryan remarked that gardaí would not usually expect a low-level footsoldier in the organisation to have direct access to such a senior figure.

In one call, there is a conversation about how €1m fraudulently claimed in pandemic unemployment payments would be laundered.

In another, there is talk of how €30,000 of the proceeds of the Cork-based fraud was being laundered through accounts in Germany.

In another voice clip, one of the gang members was addressed by the nickname ‘Ebony3’.

The phone containing this valuable information in the investigation was seized by Detective Garda Kieran Crowley during what was a relatively routine act of stop-and-search policing in the Midleton area.

Having signalled for the driver of a Mercedes to stop, the detective noticed that the driver was acting nervously and he decided to conduct a search for suspected drugs. No drugs were found. However, what was seized became a key part of the PUP fraud investigation.

Two false passports were discovered, two fraudulent bank documents were seized, and two phone SIM cards were located. The SIM numbers would correspond with numbers provided for the setting up of bank accounts for the fraudulent PUP claims. Most significant of all, however, was the seizure of a mobile phone.

Instead of communicating by text message, the criminals had used WhatsApp voice messages instead. These would prove vital in linking the two defendants with each other, linking them with other criminals, and providing vivid accounts of the modus operandi of the gang.

At the time this phone was seized in Midleton, Detective Garda Trevor Conroy, from Wexford and on secondment to the Department of Social Protection, had been examining patterns in suspicious PUP claims. A pattern was emerging where a sizeable number of HSE or Tusla staff appeared to be making PUP claims while continuing in full-time employment in the first months of the pandemic. In fact, these health workers were oblivious to the claims that had been filed in their names and the payments made to accounts set up fraudulently from Cork.

It was later established that their email addresses had been harvested and had been used to dupe them into providing further personal information that would advance the fraud.

Det Gda Conroy was at this time gathering compelling evidence from an analysis of PPS numbers that PUP claims had been made by people who would not have been entitled to it.

A total of 74 PUP claims were observed in this fast-developing investigation. It was quickly becoming clear that this was a systematic scam, and the monies were being paid into 57 bank accounts.

By this time, the on-the-ground police work in Midleton and the investigation into patterns of claims going on by gardaí on secondment to the Department of Social Protection were all being coordinated under the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

Had the case against the two men living in Cork gone to trial, it is estimated that its duration would have been measured in months rather than weeks.

The evidence would have been technical in nature, and more than 70 witnesses would have had to give evidence from the prosecution side.

Defence lawyers were at pains to point out in mitigation that their clients’ pleas of guilty to the charges against them saved the State the considerable cost of putting together enormous books of evidence, and the even costlier onus of running the trial for a number of months — not to mention the huge demands that would have been made on the 12 jurors who would have been selected to hear the case.

On the matter of jury selection, this was one of the most novel and criminally-enterprising aspects of the fraud that was carried out.

Emails from the hacked information on various HSE and Tusla staff members were used to send out fraudulent jury notices, telling recipients they had been called for jury service — but that first they should confirm their name, date of birth, PPS number, and mother’s maiden name.

HSE and Tusla staff were targeted on the assumption that they would be working through the pandemic and would not be making a pandemic unemployment payment claim.

As was widely known, many of these employees were also working full tilt in the course of the pandemic. A few basic questions, that did not seek financial information of any kind, were unlikely to raise the suspicions of what were some very busy people.

The information the criminal gang harvested from the replies to the bogus jury emails were then used to set up bank accounts in online prepaid financial services and with An Post. Further bank accounts were set up to keep the money moving and, in effect, to launder it.

While fraud investigations typically involve detailed paper trails to follow the money, other policing strategies were involved, including the painstaking analysis of CCTV that could be gathered in coordination with the documented timing of withdrawals from the suspect accounts.

This proved extremely fruitful in this investigation: Bashiru Aderibigbe was seen on security cameras on 22 occasions making withdrawals from the target accounts, in the course of which he pocketed €11,270 in cash from 13 different bank accounts.

It was ultimately established in this way that in these 13 accounts, Aderibigbe had access to over €56,000 in cash from the fraudulent PUP claims.

For instance, on August 8 last year, Aderibigbe was seen on CCTV at the Crestfield centre in Dooradoyle in Limerick City making one of the withdrawals.

One of the strongest pieces of evidence against his co-accused, Oluwagbewikeke Lewis, was the phone seized from him and the audio WhatsApp messages between Lewis and Aderibigbe and other parties.

One piece of audio referenced plans to obtain up to €1m and attempts to get more bank accounts through which to launder it.

When arrested, Aderibigbe made no comment during interviews with gardaí.

Lewis was later arrested, and he also made no comment to the majority of questions he was asked. 

Examination of WhatsApp messaging made it clear that the two co-accused have been friends for several years. 

Detectives were satisfied from their analysis of the audio messaging WhatsApp that Lewis had direct contact with the director of the criminal organisation who was referred to as ‘The Chairman’. 

Cult Killings in Awka, Concerned Awka Indigenes in 33 Awka Villages petition Anambra police

Source: https://www.odogwublog.com/cult-killings-in-awka-concerned-awka-indigenes-in-33-awka-villages-petition-anambra-police/

The Commissioner of Police,
Anambra State Police Command,
Awka.

Thro;

The Police Public Relations Officer ( PPRO),
Anambra State Police Command,
Awka.

Sir,

INVESTIGATE THE GRUESOME MURDER OF ONYEBUCHI CHRISTOPHER( EZE IMOKA) AND OTHER SECRET CULT RELATED ACTS

BY EZE OBI ( 07039819624), OKONKWO CHUKWUDI ( 08136538042), JAZZY SM(+2349018524934), CHISOM ONWURAJ AND OTHERS AT LARGE

On behalf of our brother, Christopher Onyebuchi ( Eze Imoka) of Amachalla Village Awka , who was gruesomely murdered by gunmen believed to be members of a secret cult called Ayez Confraternity, we write you as below:

  1. On Friday 29th October,2021, in the morning hours, Onyebuchi Christopher while discharging his duty as the Awka Chief Priest ( Eze- Imoka) was shot severally and assassinated by gunmen suspected to be cultists.
  2. That as the deceased Eze Imoka’s family persons were till nursing the sudden demise of Christopher Onyebuchi ( Eze Imoka), behold, the social media platforms were flooded with WhatsApp Chat proofs, adducing that Eze Imoka was gruesomely murdered by cultists who are members of the dreaded secret cult known as Ayez or Black Axe. The said WhatsApp proofs were downloaded from Facebook platforms and attached to this petition for documentary reasons.
  3. According to the reports trending on the social space, the WhatsApp chats were extracted from the cellphone of a suspected member of Amikwo Community Youth Security, Awka, by name Chisom Onwurah( Aka: Baret). The WhatsApp chats were made on different dates ranging from 25th October, 2021, 27th October, 2021, to 29th October, 2021. The WhatsApp voice notes were also made before and shortly after the murder of Eze Imoka by members of Ayez secret cult. Copy of one of the Facebook stories on how Eze Imoka was gruesomely murdered by gunmen is hereby attached for your perusal.
  4. Investigations conducted on the telephone numbers contained in one of the WhatsApp chats using truecaller, revealed that the phone no; 07039819624 is registered with MTN as Eze Obi, 08136538042 is registered as Okonkwo Chukwudi and +2349018524934 as Jazzy S.M. Attached to this petition are the WhatsApp profiles of the suspected cultists.
  5. Nevertheless, Eze Obi in his voice WhatsApp chats with Okonkwo Chukwudi attested that Eze Imoka ( Onyebuchi Christopher ) was gruesomely murdered by their secret cult, the RBC of the Ayez Sec. Eze Obi in his voice note vowed that more people are still going to be killed by their criminal gangs.

Sir, It is very imperative to note Sir that WhatsApp App cannot operate once the time and date of a cellphone does not correspond with any local time and date of a given country, therefore, the dates and times conveyed by the WhatsApp chat proofs are authentic, therefore, we request for proper and full police investigation into our complaint.
We request that Eze Obi who in his WhatsApp chats with Okonkwo Chukwudi spoke in secrecy but has very important undisclosed information to give on the real identities of those who murdered Eze Imoka should be tracked via his phone line, and his cellphone’s ( WhatsApp chats, call log and text message) alongside his partners in crime,Okonkwo Chukwudi, Jazzy SM and others at large be carefully and thoroughly probed by the police.
We appeal that Eze Obi, Okonkwo Chukwudi, Chisom Onwurah and others who are indicted by police investigation are made to face the full wrath of the law to serve as a lesson to other cultists and the police findings on this case be made public interest of public peace.
We finally appeal that our complaint be detailed to State C.II.D, Awka or the Anti Cultism Squad of the command for proper documentation.

We shall be relying on your investigations
Signed

Mr. Patrick Nwosu

Mr. Ejike Obiorah

Men guilty of €183,000 PUP scam could have links with notorious Black Axe gang

Source: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/men-guilty-of-183000-pup-scam-could-have-links-with-notorious-black-axe-gang-41023571.html

Detectives suspect two men who pleaded guilty this week to a money-laundering conspiracy involving €183,491 in funds fraudulently obtained under the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) programme are part of the global-wide Nigerian Black Axe crime organisation.

Black Axe is considered to be the world’s biggest fraud gang, and senior officers attached to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) believe its activities in Ireland have significantly increased in recent years.

“It is suspected that this gang has been in Ireland for around 20 years but their activities here have become more prevalent,” a source told the Irish Independent.