The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has busted a syndicate that specialised in breaking into an intranet site and altering profiles of people, just as the board has stopped the use of email for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE) registration’s processes.
Registrar of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, who made this known while addressing newsmen in Abuja, said email would only be requested at the successful completion of the registration exercise by candidates to access information on the examination.
He explained that the new system is to forestall exposure of candidates’ information to dubious cyber cafe operators and other criminal elements who in the course of UTME/ DE registration steal email passwords to perpetrate fraud.
He revealed that over a dozen fraudsters had gained access into an intranet site of the board and altered profiles of the board’s ad hoc staff, reportedly diverting over N10 million meant for their allowances.
Oloyede said the board uncovered the fraud after a careful investigation, which led to the arrest of one Sahabi Zubairu from Takum in Taraba State and some others.
He said government policy requires that money meant for ad hoc staff are paid directly into the accounts of the beneficiaries, a situation that gave room for the kind of challenge the board was facing.
He, however, decried the failure of the accounting department to detect the fraud by cross-checking the names on the accounts to ensure that 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 have 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.
The JAMB boss said, “As from Thursday, 15, April 2021, candidates will no longer be required to provide any email address during registration. Consequently, candidates will have the following options to access their profile during or after registration.”
The JAMB boss said an individual’s mobile phone now remains the only major tool to carry out all the registration processes.
Speaking further, Oloyede said the board has phased out the use of cash for any transactions in the Computer-Based Test (CBT) centres owned by JAMB, saying only use of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards is now allowed.
On how the fraudsters successfully gained access to the profiles of the ad hoc staff, he explained that the fraudsters used a key logger, a software that allows access to the profile of anyone who has logged in using a public cybercafé even after the person has logged out and gone.
He clarified that the site was not for application to become JAMB ad hoc staff, but for JAMB ad hoc staff to supply their account details and names for payment of their allowances.
Oloyede 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 number 313 and 312, among others.
At least ten of the scammers paraded by JAMB before newsmen on Tuesday, in Bwari, Abuja, admitted to the crime and said 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 million 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 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 the 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 a least 12 people into the crime, some of whom are his family members, adding that he received over N400,000 diverted into his account.
One of the suspects, Nasiru Mohammed, said he received the sum of N220,000 payment from JAMB while others said they got between 286,000 to N440,000.
Both suspects pleaded for leniency and pledged never to indulge in such unwholesome acts again.
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