By Evelyn Usman
Lagos — Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, Lagos have arrested three persons who specialised in stealing bank customers cheques with which they withdraw money through alleged connivance of some banks staff.
Recovered from the suspects were two dud cheques, fake letter heads of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and that of the state’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Development which they allegedly intended to use to procure United Kingdom visa.
The suspects’ modus operandi, as gathered, included visiting banks around Lagos pretending to be transacting one business or another. Meanwhile, they would be on the look out for any customer who is careless with his cheque book with the aim of stealing such.
At other times, they would search waste baskets in the banks for unused cheque leaves like those discarded by the owners due to one error or another.
Police sources said they would, thereafter, take the cheque leaflets to insiders in the bank who, after ascertaining the amount in the account, pay the impostor, using the cheque as valid instrument.
Luck, however, ran out on the trio of Kola Ademola, Oyedepo Adesola and Kola Osho as they were arrested last week in pipeline area of Abule-Egba following a tip-off.
Blank cheques are usually brought to us by our boys — Ademola
Thirty three-year-old Ademola, a graduate of Business Administration and son of a retired soldier, admitted that he has been in the shady business for a while.
According to the father of two, “I am an educational consultant. I enroll students for final year examinations and extra moral classes and I also do tutorials for them. I met one Samson at Obalende who introduced me to the business. He gave me the dud cheques I was arrested with.
“The blank cheques are usually brought to us by our boys. They are not fake but original. What we do after our boys bring them, is to deliver them to insiders in banks who work on them and bring the cash. We pay them at the end of the each transaction, depending on the amount in the account.
“But the present cash-less policy is affecting us because we now deal under mandate. By that, I mean we can only withdraw less than N100,000 which would not require the presence of signatories or confirmation.
“This is the third time I brought a cheque to Mr. Osho. But he said he does not have any insider in the particular bank.
“When I took the first one to him, he told me there was no money in the account and the second cheque was also not successful.
“This is double calamity because we have not made any money from these cheques. As if that is not enough, the dud cheques have landed us in police net” said the Ikire, Osun State-born suspect.
I wanted to use the letter-head for UK visa —Osho
But 57-year-old Osho claimed he was not aware the cheques Ademola gave to him were fake, explaining that he was only given the cheques to withdraw money with a promise to be given a stipend at the end of the day.
Hear him: “Ademola is like a son to me because his late father was my friend. I sent all the businesses (cheques) he brought back to him because I told him I did not want any trouble. That is why I took the cheques back to him saying I could not withdraw the money”
Asked where he got the Ekiti State House of Assembly letter head, he replied: “Yes, the documents were found on me. I wanted to use them to apply for UK visa and I thought that if I used the letter-head, the embassy would speed up my application. I downloaded it from the internet.
“I knew I was cheating when I got the documents but I had no option.”
However, the third suspect, Oyedepo Adesola denied having anything to do with the recovered cheques and document.
The Higher National Diploma holder claimed he only went to visit Osho when he was arrested, saying: “I am innocent. I do not understand what the Police are saying.”