By Evelyn Usman
Judging by her frail frameÂ Â and innocent look, itÂ Â will be impossible to pass 26-year-old Miss Kemi Yisau for a frivolous individual. But the 400-level part-time student of the Department of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management of the Lagos State University (LASU) is currently in custody at the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) for allegedly siphoning a whooping sum of N3 million from a customerâ€™s account into hers.
The undergraduate, until the arrest, was an account officer at the Jibowu branch of Pyramid Micro Finance bank. The amount, as gathered, was siphoned from a customerâ€™s account.
The customer with an unknown identity, was said to have been banking with theÂ institution for close to four years without any hitch until Monday this week when heÂ went to ascertain the amount he had in his account, only to be given a ridiculous figure.Â Â Â The perplexed customer almost went berserk when he was informed he had just N300, 000 as against over N3million he maintained was there.
Commissioner of Police in-charge of he Unit, Mr Moses Saba, explained that the bank alerted his unit when preliminary investigations linked Kemi to the illicit act.Â During the investigation, Saba said the customer, before then, had been verifying the account with Kemi , who usually gaveÂ the exact figure.
But on the day the bubble burst, Kemi was not in the office, hence, another account officer attended to the customer, thereby revealing the true picture.
Explaining how Kemi was eventually apprehended, Saba said, â€œ On receipt of the petition by the Micro Finance bank, the suspect was immediately apprehended and upon interrogation, volunteered a confessional statement where she stated that between January to November 2009, she had stolen the sum of N2,474,500 from the customer.
She used her position as the customerâ€™s account officer toÂ collect deposits, which she failed to credit into the account. She was then giving fictitious balances to the company each time they requested for their credit balance.â€
When approached, Kemi, who was visibly frightened apparently due to the unknown consequence of her shady deal, burst out in tears saying, â€œ It was a mistake. No, it was the devilâ€™s handwork.â€
How it all started
Kemi told Crime Guard that she was appointed as an account officer early last year when she was diligent in the duty entrusted to her until January this year, when the idea struck her. Said she,Â â€œI did notÂ withdraw the whole amount at once. I was withdrawing it bit by bit . I started it in January this year. The amount in question was withdrawn between January and November. I used the money to pay my school fees and other academic necessities. I am a student of the Lagos State University, Ojo, where I run a part- time study in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. I was employed with a Certificate in Computer. Nobody sold the idea to me. I just thought about it , thinking no one wouldÂ find out.
blocking all loopholes
â€œSince the customer usually comes to me whenever he wanted to withdraw or deposit money, I used that as an advantage. Anytime he came to deposit any amount, I would watch him closely until he leaves and, thereafter I would take the teller that is supposed to be for the bank while the customer goes with his. At times, if for instance, he pays in N100,000, I will enter N50,000 while I keep the rest. Then in my system, I will asterisk the amount to ascertain the exact amount , should the company ask for its record. And whenever the company asks for record, I will enter it in a way that would signify the customerâ€™s exact amount. Also, whenever the customer comes around to verify the amount, I would give him the exact figure.â€
And the bubble burst
This frivolous act had been going on until last Monday when the lid was blown open. Shaking her head in regret, Kemi said, â€œ I did not know the customer was coming on that day. I had barely stood up from my seat in the convenience when the customer came. I guess since he did not see me, he assumed I did not come to work that day and therefore went to another staff who gave him the real figure. Everything happened at the same time because it did not take long before the management was informed and one thing led to another and I wasÂ arrested.â€
Asked if that was the only account she had tampered with, she responded, â€œ I swear, it is the only one. I have never done this type of thing before in my life. The devil pushed me into it. I have paid some of the money and have also begged the customer and my bank to give me sometime to pay back. I do not want to go to jail, please….â€Â She kept mute for a moment and the next time she opened her mouth, it was with an exclamation ofÂ â€œ Ah! So, you mean this is how I have used my own hand to ruin my life?â€ directing her question to no one in particular.
recruitment into banks is porous
The unit boss, CP Saba,Â who did not hide his displeasure over the recruitment exercise in the banking sector, blamed management of banks for failing in their responsibility to scrutinise applicants before they are employed.
Banks, he advised, â€œshould exercise caution when recruiting personnel . This is because in all cases of fraud in banks, a staff is found to be involved. Applicants should be properly vetted by security agencies by running background checks on them .
Also, when a staff is dismissed for fraudulent conduct, his particulars should be added to an industry wide data base to prevent future employment in the industry.â€ Effort, he stated, was still on to recover the money after which Kemi would be arraigned in court.