On Thursday, April 6, 2023, an Accra High Court, presided over by Her Ladyship Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, (Mrs) J.A., sitting in as an additional High Court Judge convicted and sentenced two accused persons to 12 months imprisonment.
In addition, they are to pay a fine of two thousand (2000) penalty units each or in default serve twenty-four months in prison in hard labour.
The accused persons were Linda Abakah and Solomon Ofosu. They were charged and convicted with the offence of conspiracy to steal, stealing and money laundering.
The court held that the two accused persons having been in custody for a significant period of six (6) months and the fact that the bulk of the benefit or proceeds of the crime has not been accrued to them they were given a relatively lenient sentence.
The other two accused persons, Derick Obeng aka Chilling and Ezekiel Otoo who were at large at the time of sentencing, were however charged with same offences.
Prelude to the conviction
It will be recalled that in April, 2022, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in a joint collaboration with the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB) and the Ghana Police Service arrested a criminal syndicate based in Assin Fosu. The syndicate was involved in mobile banking application fraud and sim swap fraud.
The syndicate operates using sim swap and mobile banking application fraud schemes. The mobile application fraud is an online scamming method in which monies are stolen through social engineering by luring customers of banks to divulge their phone numbers, passwords, pin codes, and One Time Password (OTP). After having access to these information, they take over the customer’s bank account, mobile and electronic cash. The fraudsters fraudulently withdraw the remaining balance from the customers’ accounts at Agency Points. This is mostly achieved with support of agents from the banks and staff of telecommunication companies to swap sim.
Through their fraudulent activities, customers’ mobile numbers were swapped without their knowledge and allowed them to gain access to their mobile banking application to steal funds. They were able to illegally withdraw an amount of GHc257,472.22 from 11 customers.