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₦2.9 Billion Customer Funds: Customers report frozen accounts over illegal transfers from Flutterwave.. ( + Documents)

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On Sunday, payments fintech Flutterwave denied a report that hackers stole ₦2.9 billion of customer funds. In its response to the story, Flutterwave said it noticed unusual activities in its systems and told users to activate safety protocols. But it insisted that customers did not lose any funds.

However, several sources revealed a different story. One of those sources told this publication that his company lost ₦8 million. Three other sources said their accounts were frozen for being beneficiaries of illegal transfers from Flutterwave accounts.

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On March 3, 2023, Alex Onyia tweeted about a hack at Flutterwave. Part of his tweet said, “Flutterwave has been hacked by Omar Edewor Trades, who has an account in Access Bank, and several millions of naira have been stolen from people’s [Flutterwave] accounts.” He advised everyone to get a new API key—one of the safety precautions that Flutterwave asked its users to take two days later.

Onyia is the CEO of Educare, a school management software provider that integrates Flutterwave and Paystack payment technologies into their software for educational institutions and other businesses. On a call with TechCabal, Onyia maintained that money was fraudulently transferred out of the Flutterwave accounts of his clients
through API calls.

He said, “On Thursday, March 2, 2023, I got a message from my account manager at Flutterwave asking if we authorised some transactions. I looked into the matter and was already blaming my dev team. I thought they introduced something new or a backdoor that was triggering the debit. After further investigation, I discovered that
there was no problem with my company and that there was a compromise in Flutterwave’s system.”

Onyia claimed that the hacker moved ₦4,990,000 out of the client’s Flutterwave account first and ₦3,360,000 moments later. “They even initiated a third debit for
₦3,360,000, but the balance wasn’t up to that, so it didn’t materialise,” he said.

Following the money trail
Onyia said that he called Access Bank, where the money had been transferred into an account named Omar Edewor Trades. “We called the bank, but we were told that the
money had been moved to another bank. After sharing the necessary documents, including information about the illegal transaction on Flutterwave, I asked Access Bank to
freeze the account.” According to Onyia, while the bank was investigating, it noticed that a lot of money was flowing into that account and immediately froze the
account.

“We asked the bank to send us back our money since there was money in the account and proof that about ₦8 million moved from our account to the fraudster’s. The bank
refused, saying that they had no right to, as based on the transaction trail, our money has been moved to a different account.” TechCabal could not verify that the
Access Bank account was frozen at the time of this report.

Onyia said that on March 3, Flutterwave asked customers to activate IP whitelisting, a security measure that was previously optional and asked everyone to change their
API keys. “If you know your system was not compromised, why are they asking everyone to take all these measures?”

Flutterwave’s response
Flutterwave answers this question in its official statement, saying, “During a routine check of our transaction monitoring system, we identified an unusual trend of
transactions on some users’ profiles. Our team immediately launched a review (in line with our standard operating procedure), which revealed that some users who had
not activated some of our recommended security settings might have been susceptible.” However, the fintech flatly denied that any user lost any funds, as its security
measures were “able to address the issue before any harm could be done to our users”.

But court documents seen by TechCabal raise questions about Flutterwave’s version of events. Those documents include certified true copies of a petition by
Fluttewave’s legal counsel to the police dated February 20, 2023. The letter asked for police assistance to recover funds by obtaining court orders from the magistrate
court to sustain account freezes on 107 bank accounts in 27 banks that allegedly, directly or indirectly, received money from the illegal transfers from Flutterwave accounts.

Some of the frozen accounts
Ajeka Iliasu Opaluwa, owner of Pajek Signature, a cryptocurrency trading business, is listed in court documents as a first beneficiary of the illegal transfer from
Flutterwave accounts. A first beneficiary is an account that received a transfer directly from a Flutterwave account. On a call with TechCabal, Opaluwa said, “I sold
USDT worth ₦1.6 billion to William Atong Chen, a Chinese merchant who has been a customer since 2019. When we first transacted five years ago, my partner met him in
Lagos to complete KYC (know your customer). The transactions started on February 5, 2023, and I got paid, just like all the others I have had with him. It was on
February 7, 2023, after the trade had been concluded, that the bank froze my account.”

Opaluwa told Chen that the bank had frozen his account. “I asked him to come to the bank and help me resolve the issue, but he said he was no longer in Nigeria. His
Nigerian numbers are still reachable, and when I call him to recount my plight, he insists that he made the transaction in good faith and that it was not stolen money
he sent to me,” Opaluwa said on the call.

Opaluwa insists that the Chinese customer’s name is William Atong Chen, however, the only Chinese name found on Flutterwave’s court document listing bank accounts to
be frozen is Quiang Chen. Opaluwa shared evidence of the transaction with TechCabal. “I made the transaction lawfully. I sourced USDT, and when I saw evidence that I
had been paid, I handed them over. Three days later, somebody comes to tell me that the money I was paid was stolen. Was I supposed to take it to a digital money
detector? How could I have known the money was stolen?” he asked on the call. He told TechCabal that he has filed a petition against Flutterwave as he is also a
victim.

The accounts of other crypto traders who received payments for crypto assets from Opaluwa were also frozen. David Ofedu Audu, whose five bank accounts are listed on
Fluterwave’s petition for account freezing, is one of them. Audu told TechCabal that his transactions with Opaluwa started on February 5 and ended on February 7. The
day after, February 8, his five accounts were frozen.

He also shared an email from StanbicIBTC Bank confirming that his accounts were frozen because of the illegal transfers from Flutterwave accounts. His account manager
at Providus Bank, where his accounts were also frozen, cited the same reason for the freeze, on a call.

“I am a second beneficiary because the person who paid me received the money directly from Flutterwave. Opaluwa bought USDT from me for a Chinese customer called
Chen,” Audu said on the call. In the court documents, Chen’s account is listed as one of the accounts frozen for receiving funds from the impacted Flutterwave
accounts.

TechCabal also spoke to sources whose accounts were blocked but who claimed they had no dealings whatsoever with Flutterwave. Henry Awaka, one such person, told
TechCabal that his Fidelity Bank account was frozen around the same period. He told TechCabal, “I sent several emails to Fidelity Bank but got no response.”

He remained in the dark until his friend, who was a second beneficiary, saw his name in the court documents and told him about it. According to the document, Awaka’s
Fidelity bank account is a fourth beneficiary and received ₦1,199,291 from an account named Nnam Monday Kingsley at Providus Bank. Awaka said that he traced the
transaction and discovered that it was from a bulk sale of alcoholic drinks—350 crates of Trophy and 27 crates of Budweiser alcoholic drinks.

Awaka is a sales manager at an international brewery and he claimed he makes these sorts of transactions regularly. He didn’t suspect that he had become a beneficiary
of some of the N2.9 billion illegally transferred from Flutterwave accounts. He has since emailed his bank several times with the receipt of his transaction but has
received no response. “Fidelity Bank is so complacent about the matter,” he said. According to him, there are about 180 people in a Whatsapp group whose accounts have
been frozen after making one legitimate transaction with someone who received money that came from the Flutterwave account.

 

Source: The Tech Cabal

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Just In: President Tinubu approves N70,000 minimum wage

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President Bola Tinubu has approved N70,000 as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers with a promise to review the national minimum wage law every three years.

 

More details later…

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Gov. Zulum Clarifies Son’s Purported Killing Of Chinese National At Indian Nightclub

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The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has denied reports alleging that one of the sons has been arrested and sentenced to prison for the murder of some Indian citizens.

Reports has it that there were unverified rumours, especially on social media platforms, alleging that the first son of the governor, Umar Zulum Umara, killed the Chinese national during a fight at an Indian nightclub.

However, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, Abdurrahman Ahmed Bundi, dismissed the reports in a statement on Wednesday.

According to him, no son of the governor was arrested or charged with any crime.

The statement read, “attention of the Borno State Governor’s Media Unit has been drawn to rumours circulating that the son of the Borno State Governor has been arrested for the alleged murder of some Indian citizens.

“This misinformation was published in an online blog, Nairaland, titled “Son of Borno State Governor Murders Someone In India—Politics.” The blog claimed that the Governor also travelled to India, attempting to use diplomatic status to resolve the matter.

“It is on record that Governor Babagana Zulum was on a one-month vacation in Saudi Arabia for the 2024 Hajj and later travelled to Egypt to attend the annual ASUWAN forum conference in Cairo.

“The Media Unit would like to clarify and set the record straight that Nairaland and other online blogs have mischievously spread defamatory content without any speck of truth.

“We hereby warned Nairaland and all those who have spread the false information to pull down this misinformation from its website and platforms within the next 24 hours and offer an unreserved apology to Governor Zulum, his son, and the entire family, or risk legal action. The Governor shall also not hesitate to take legal action against any media outlet that continues to publicise this defamatory information on its platform.

“We would like to inform the public that none of Governor’s Zulum’s son was either arrested or charged with any crime, or involved in any unlawful activities anywhere.

“We urge the public to exercise caution when consuming and sharing information, particularly when it comes from unverified sources and blogs instead of credible media outlets.

“We enjoin all media organisations to engage in responsible journalism of truth and factual verification while recognising the potential harm and psychological trauma the spread of false information might have caused to the Governor’s family.”

 

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Over 600,000 Nigerians sought asylum abroad under Buhari – Report

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Over 600,000 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries between 2016 and 2023, which were years under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari was President from 2015 to 2023 and handed over to President Bola Tinubu who was sworn in on May 29, 2023, after winning in the general elections the same year.

According to a report released on Wednesday, July 17, 2024, by Statisense, a data collection organisation, of a total of 664,384 in eight years, 355,792 persons sought asylum between 2016 and 2019 while 308,592 sought asylum between 2020 and 2023.

On a year-by-year basis, 66,862 sought asylum in 2016, 91,924 in 2017, 84,624 (2018), 112,382 (2019), 73,233 (2020), 83,105 (2021), 83,402 (2022), and 68,852 in 2023.

The figures indicate a surge from the past years, as Statisense noted that within 12 years – 2004 to 2015 – only 204,791 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries.

In total, 869,175 Nigerians filed for asylum in the last 20 years, notably from 2004 to 2023.

The report was posted on the organisation’s X.com handle @StatiSense, citing the United Nations Refugee Agency.

In another report shared by the organisation on Wednesday, it was stated that the Republic of Niger topped countries with the most Nigerian refugees in 2023 with about 200,497 Nigerians and a total of 1,268,464 Nigerian refugees between 2015 and 2023.

Niger, a border country, shares proximity with Nigeria’s north, where residents battle a spate of insecurity in the region ranging from banditry, terrorism and herdsmen-farmers crisis.

Another report also revealed that Nigerians topped the list of African countries who sought asylum in Canada in 2023 with about 10,111 asylum seekers followed by Kenya with 1,345.  It stated that 1,345 Nigerians however sought asylum in the United Kingdom and 5,136 in the United States of America.

Source: The Punch

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