Another suspect in elaborate Mobile Money and SIM swap fraud arrested

The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) has arrested another person reportedly involved in a “sophisticated mobile money and sim swap fraud scheme.”

EOCO officials appeared before an Accra Circuit Court and filed an amended charge and facts sheet, after which the court retook the pleas of the accused persons.

The five accused persons namely Richmond Donkor Alias Chino, Cecilia Asabre, Salifu Eshum, Daniel Asomani Baawiah and Shadrack Anthony alias Target have been jointly charged with conspiracy to steal GH¢113,947.57.

They are being held on several charges, including abetment of stealing, attempt to steal, altering of forged documents, possession of forged documents, abetment of money laundering, and money laundering.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court, presided over by Mr Isaac Addo, admitted the five accused to bail in the sum of GH¢600,000 each, with two sureties.

The court said the sureties should be public or civil servants earning GH¢3,000 monthly.

It further ordered the accused to deposit their passports at the Court’s registry.

Lawyer for Shadrack Anthony, the fifth accused who was recently arrested by the EOCO, prayed for bail, saying his client had a fixed place of abode, was married with children, was gainfully employed, and would not interfere with police investigations when released.

The defence counsel told the court that Anthony was also unwell and would come to court at any time if granted bail.

The prosecution did not dispute the granting of bail and requested the court to admit them to bail on the same terms as the fifth accused person’s police enquiry bail term, which was GH¢600,000 with two sureties.

The prosecution, however, opposed any variation of the bail terms.

The matter before the court is that on February 14, 2024, EOCO received complaints from a reputable bank in the country that GH¢113,947.57 had been stolen from six of its customers’ bank accounts via a sophisticated mobile money and sim deactivation and reactivation fraud scheme.

The prosecution said with the collaboration of the Ghana Police Service, the individuals behind the scheme were arrested at Kasea on March 2, 2024, upon a tip-off.

The court heard that preliminary investigations revealed that the accused persons’ mode of operation was such that, with the connivance of some unscrupulous individuals within Vodafone (now Telecel Ghana Ltd), AT (AirtelTigo), and the bank, mobile phone numbers attributed to particular bank accounts were swapped without the knowledge of the actual account holders.

“This swapping enables the accused persons to take over control of the account holder’s banking channels (Mobile Application and USSD) and with this the accused persons transfer funds in the accounts of the victims to different bank accounts and mobile money accounts.”

The prosecution said investigations revealed that Anthony, the fifth accused, who is a registered third-party agent of Telecel Ghana Ltd, illegally gained access to the user login credentials of one Grace Chartey Gador, his employee, deactivated and reactivated the sim numbers of the bank customers to enable the other accused persons to steal the money from their accounts.

Preliminary investigations further showed that Richmond Donkor and Salifu Eshum, altered the same ECOWAS Identity card with the number GHA 001091841-0 in the name of one William Agyei Kwarteng and used the ID to swap the phone number attributed to the bank number 2030200665017 belonging to William Agyei Kwarteng.

The accused also transferred a total of GH¢33,850 from the said account to bank account numbers, 2030438618518 and 2100438618512 belonging to Cecilia Asabre, who withdrew the funds immediately the accounts were credited.

According to the prosecution, one Comfort Asamoah-Adu’s account was taken over, resulting in a total transfer of GH¢10,341.2 from those accounts to Eshum’s MTN mobile money wallet.

“Finally, our preliminary investigations showed that in an elaborate social engineering scheme, the fourth accused (Daniel Asomani Baawiah) attempted to steal an unspecified money belonging to one Muhibatu Abdul Basit through her AT (AirtelTigo) cash number.”

Source: GNA

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