African man jailed over €205,000 online fraud of AIB customers
A man behind a €205,000 fraud, in which a number of mobile phone shop workers were also implicated, has been jailed for three years.
The scam saw more than €205,000 taken from customers accounts at AIB after their accounts were "taken over" using duplicate SIM cards to access money remotely before accounts were raided.
Father of three Ami Enabulele appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court in Co Donegal charged with 185 charges relating to the sophisticated online fraud.
Enabulele (27), of Glendale Manor, Letterkenny, pleaded guilty to the charges of money laundering, theft, attempted theft and unlawful use of a computer.
In all, a total of €205,201.93 was taken from dozens of personal bank accounts, ranging in sums from around €1,000-€50,000.
All the money has since been returned to the account holders but AIB, whose fraud team uncovered the scam, are still out of pocket.
Detective Garda Shane Fitzsimons of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) outlined the scam as Enabulele, appeared to be sentenced for his part in the fraud.
Detective Fitzsimons explained how the accounts were accessed when the gang accessed the accounts of people online and pretended they had lost their passwords.
In between, the gang had liaised with some phone shop employees and bought SIM cards in the same telephone number as the bank account holder but with a different phone provider.
When the bank sent a text message with a new password to the account holder, the gang would then access the account and begin taking the money.
AIB fraud management spotted the missing cash in noticed a suspect IP address had accessed or "taken over" 45 of their personal bank accounts.
In May 2019, the bank reported the fraud to the GNECB.
A full investigation was launched and gardaí were able to track Enabulele using his IP address and a unique VID number which is attached to any device which logs into an app online.
The AIB fraud unit were able to show Enabulele's VID number had been linked to all of the accounts which had been "taken over" and from which funds had been removed.
When arrested and brought to Letterkenny Garda station on May 30th, 2019, Enabulele admitted his part in the fraud, adding that he knew it was wrong.
He also admitted to moving money from AIB accounts into a post office account so it could be withdrawn.
Detective Fitzsimons said the accused was a bit hazy with some details but overall was "forthright and honest" about his involvement.
He also confirmed a number of phone shop employees were "complicit" in the scam but that Enabulele was the only person before the court.
No details of the identities of the phone shop employees, or the location of the shops, were given in evidence.
Enabulele claimed he received about €10,000 for his part in the overall scam.
The court heard one woman had her account "taken over" 59 times between December 18th-23rd, 2018, with €11,259 taken from her. Another woman had €50,201.93 taken from her account.
Barrister for Enabulele, Mr Shane Costello SC, said his client had admitted to the offences but stressed he was part of a larger group of people involved.
He added that his client's early plea had saved what undoubtedly would have been a very complex trial, adding his plea was of great assistance to the State.
He said his client was an asylum seeker who was out of work, getting involved in the scam through friends to make some money.
Mr Costello added Enabulele has three children, with a fourth on the way, but he is no longer in a relationship with the mother of the children. Counsel added Enavulele is a carer for one of his children who has special needs.
He added his client said he also got involved in the scam out of boredom and did not perceive the scale of the matter which eventually "got out of control".
Passing sentence, Judge John Aylmer said: "It is clear these offences involved very significant levels of fraud and dishonesty of a sophisticated nature involving the misuse of computers."
He added that before mitigation he placed the incident in the mid-range of such offences which merited a jail sentence of six years.
However, because of his early guilty plea, his cooperation, his remorse and the fact that he may have only gained modestly from the scam, he considered a sentence of four years in jail to be fitting.
The judge said he also wished to encourage the accused in his rehabilitation, suspending the last 12 months.