…Says fraudsters have taken control of sites, divert over N10m ad hoc staff allowance
By Joseph Erunke
OVER N10 million meant to be paid to ad-hoc staff of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, as allowance has been hijacked into the accounts of over a dozen fraudsters who gained entry into the internet site of the board.
To this end, the board said mobile phone, not e-mail, would be the only major requirement for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, and Direct Entry, DE, registration processes.
Registrar of JAMB, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, who disclosed that the use of email was no longer required for the registration, explained that the new system was to ensure that candidates’ information was not exposed to dubious cyber cafe operators and other criminal elements.
Oloyede, who disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, said the fraudsters altered profiles of the board’s ad hoc staff, diverting the money meant for their allowances.
According to him, the scam was uncovered after the board undertook a careful investigation, leading to the arrest of one Sahabi Zubairu from Takum in Taraba State and several others.
Explaining that government policy required that monies meant for ad hoc staff were paid directly into the accounts of the beneficiaries, he regretted that the situation gave room to the challenge the board was encountering.
He decried the failure of the accounts department to detect the fraud by cross checking the names on the accounts to ensure they tallied with those listed on the website or owners of the codes.
The JAMB boss, who noted that ad hoc staff of the board had since been paid, however, assured that the stolen money will be recovered, as he vowed to hand perpetrators of the crime over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for further investigation and prosecution.
On how the fraudsters successfully gained access to the profiles of the ad hoc staff, Oloyede said the fraudsters used key logger, a software that allows access to the profile of anyone who had logged in using a public cybercafé even after the person has logged out and gone.
He said Zubairu deleted the names of the original ad hoc staff and their telephone numbers and substituted them with his, adding that those affected include code numbers 312 and 313, among others.
At least 10 of the scammers paraded by JAMB before journalists at its headquarters in Bwari, Abuja, admitted to the crime, saying they were lured into it by Zubairu.
The alleged fraud syndicate ploughed into the site hosting the data of all JAMB ad hoc staff and changed their account details and phone numbers, diverting several millions meant for the payment of their allowances.
While narrating how he carried out the crime, the alleged kingpin, Zubairu, said a friend of his, known as Samuel Tanko, who is now at large, introduced him to the website and supplied him with a code to apply as a JAMB ad hoc staff when they met at Saltee Cybercafé in Takum, Taraba State, where he resides.
He, however, noted that what he did was not an application but a successful alteration of the account details and phone numbers of original owners of the code listed on the site who were posted across the country by JAMB.
It was gathered that some victims of the fraud include a staff of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Mr Babangida Mohammed, and one Fatima Mohammed, among several others.
Zubairu confessed that he lured at least 12 people into the crime, some of whom were his family members, adding that he received over N400,000 diverted into his account.
One of the alleged culprits, Nasiru Mohammed, said he received the sum of N220,000 payment from JAMB, while others said they got between N286,000 to N440,000.
Both culprits pleaded for leniency and pledged never to indulge in such unwholesome acts again.
Meanwhile, Oloyede has warned Unified Tertiary Mtriculation Examination, UTME, candidates not to give their phones to anyone as they could steal their information and divert their codes, messages and calls.
He gave the warning after a 400 level Economics student of the University of Abuja, Adegoke Justina, had her code changed by a cybercafé operator and diverted all her communication with JAMB to him.
Narrating her ordeal, Adegoke said she went to a cyber café to open an email in order to complete her regularisation in JAMB but the café operator, identified as one David Ahmed, a mass communication student at Auchi Polytechnic, now at large, hacked into her email, changed its password and diverted her code so that any message sent to her by JAMB was received by him.
She said anytime she wanted to get in contact with JAMB the operator would know, adding that he started demanding money from her which she refused to pay.
Adegoke said the café operator threatened to deal with her until she decided to visit JAMB headquarters herself to sort out the issue.
Reacting to the development, Oloyede noted that since some of the candidates were digital illiterates, cybercafé operators were using that advantage to defraud them.
He said the board has carried out strategic changes to ensure that email address was no longer a requirement for registration to save candidates from the trap of fraudulent café operators.