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Fraud: Nigerian living in Singapore uses US bank to defraud Ethiopian government

Paul Gabriel Amos has been charged with a series of offences in which he and his conspirators faked documents that tricked Citibank into handing over millions of dollars from an account held for the Central Bank of Ethiopia, allege prosecutors

The FBI's New York Office has issued charges against 37 year old Amos.

The story they tell is both fascinating - and, for financial crime risk managers - scary.

The following tale is to be regarded as allegations: no convictions have been secured.

Amos, a Nigerian, lived in Singapore. He, and his conspirators were spread around the world. They produced documents purporting to be signed by officers of the National Bank of Ethiopia - including authorities to accept instructions by fax. The documents appeared to be signed by authorised signatories - and included a list of authorised persons who could be contacted by telephone to confirm the legitimacy of any transactions in the "call-back" security check. However, the telephone numbers were not actually in Ethiopia, but were mobile numbers issued in South Africa, the UK and Nigeria.

Having delivered the documents, instructions were given to Citibank to make payments exceeding a total of USD27 million to a number of accounts under the control of Amos and his conspirators. Citibank made call-back security checks - to the numbers provided by the gang.

The accounts were in South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, China, Cyprus, Japan - and the USA.

The money was taken in a period of two weeks, starting on the 2nd October 2008. Amos was identified but before the authorities set out to have him arrested in Singapore, he arrived in the USA, landing at Los Angeles on 15th January.

Citibank reported the case when the target banks began sending the money back saying that the accounts did not exist or that there were technical failings in the account information. Citi has, reportedly, refunded the National Bank of Ethiopia the balance which has not been recovered.

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