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Hackers connive with Customs officers to lift vehicles at ports—ANLCA

National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief Tony Nwabunike, has revealed that the vehicles smuggling syndicate who carry out their criminality at ports do so by hacking into the Direct Traders Input (DTI) accounts of licensed clearing agents using default passwords in connivance with criminal elements within the rank and file of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
Speaking in Lagos following the suspension of Customs clearing licences of majority of his association members including his own, he revealed that the criminal act is perpetuated by when the passwords of the members of his association were routinely hacked into and changed.
He said that the smuggling syndicate had perfected cyber hacking modalities in connivance with unscrupulous Customs officers whereby the passwords of the members of his association were routinely hacked into and changed.
Nwabunike added that the passwords are changed for a period of time, usually within three days to one week when the fraud is being perpetuated.
Trouble had started last week when the Zonal Coordinator of NCS, Zone ‘A,’ Assistant Comptroller General, Ms. Kaycee Ekekezie, suspended 300 clearing licences due to alleged fraudulent activities.
Besides, the Service further marked the popular Nnewi Building beside the Lagos Port Complex in Apapa as the centre of clearing frauds and hideouts for smuggling syndicate, who are into full time falsification of clearing document falsification, and hacking of passwords issued to licenced Customs agents by the Customs.
Since 2016 when Customs scrapped operations of DTI on grounds of reported cases of high scale fraud, it changed the game by issuing DTI passwords directly to clearing agents, but analysts say there are chances that clearing agents deliberately connive with bad eggs in Customs to expose their passwords and claim that they were hacked by vehicle smugglers who operate with fake documentations via illegal password access.
Addressing some of the affected clearing agents, ACG Ekekezie advised freight forwarders to be careful of whom they allow to be in control of their passwords, saying that some of their members of staff also compromised with the hackers.
She revealed that ““70 per cent of the cases we have treated were committed on the default password,” and advised agents to always change their password codes immediately they were given by the Customs.
Ekekezie argued further that “Those fraudsters hacking your password are there at Nnewi Building, you better be careful. Another thing is that you might be shocked that it is your boys that are doing this thing. It is true that we have minimised it to a certain extent, but going to the public DTI is what has affected most of you.
“You will see somebody who has not even utilised his DTI for once, it is the system that generates the code of your password. Once the password is given, you need to go back and change it, the same way you change the password of your ATM, when you go to a bank and collect an ATM. When you step out, you have to change it, if not, it would remain a default.
She noted that “If you come to us to complain that your password was hacked to clear a vehicle, you become our first suspect, you are the one we gave the password and you must prove to us that you did not intentionally give it out.”
Responding, ANLCA President assured that henceforth, his members have learnt their lessons and will give their passwords the security they deserve.