The Western Regional Police Command has arrested three persons for allegedly defrauding two rural banks, of 480 million cedis.
They are Francis Sam, alias Kojo Eshun, Paul Raymond Mensah Boateng and Don King Arthur Swatson.
They were alleged to have fraudulently withdrawn 170 million cedis and 310 million cedis respectively from two banks.
Four of their accomplices are said to be on the run.
They were on the verge of defrauding another rural bank in the sum of 275 million cedis when they were arrested by the police.
An amount of 30 million was found in unregistered Toyota Corolla saloon they were using for their operations at the time of their arrest.
The group started by first moving to ARB Apex Bank in Takoradi and introducing themselves to the manager as officials from the Centre for Rural Development, an NGO, which is supposedly based in Accra and whose mission is to supply and install free computers for needy rural banks in the country. However the NGO was later found to be non-existent.
The manager then asked them to bring the computers to the bank first before they would discuss the mode of distribution.
They, however, managed to obtain from the bank the list of rural banks in the Western Region, whose operations had not been computerised.
The-three suspects and their accomplices made a follow-up by visiting one of the rural bank's branches at Awiabo, another at Tikobo No. 1 and the third at Essiama.
They held discussions with the various managers, who expressed interest in computerising their operations.
They managed to supply six computers and a printer each to two of the banks and gave some of the officials computers and printers as gifts, thus winning their confidence and trust.
One of them, George Nyarko, then opened current accounts with branches of the bank at Anyinase and Axim with a different name George Mensah.
Nyarko went further to open accounts with banks at Kwesimintsim and Essiama using names such as Daniel Tetteh and Samuel Nyarko.
He then moved to the Elubo branch of another rural bank to open another account.
The syndicate went further and recruited Kwasi Appiah and Don King Arthur Swats on, who acted as their driver, and Paul Raymond Mensah Boateng.
The new recruits also went opening accounts, with Kwasi Appiah opening one with a bank at Effiakuma, with the name Nana Mireku, while Paul Ray¬mond Mensah Boateng also opened accounts at Sekondi and Shama, with the names Philip Mensah and Raymond Mensah respectively. They were issued with cheque books from the said banks.
Nyarko then issued one of the bank's cheques and paid it into an account he operated at another bank.
He issued two cheques to Kwasi Appiah on separate occasions and these were paid into the latter's account.
Nyarko again issued a cheque to Paul Raymond Mensah Boateng, which was paid into an account at a bank at Sekondi.
In all, the suspects succeeded in withdrawing the various monies paid into their accounts from their cashless account after eight working days allowed by the rural banks within which the cheques would have been cleared.
Explaining their mode of operation, the Regional Commander, Commissioner of Police Kofi Duku Arthur, said the suspects always ensured that they intercepted the cleared cheques together with statements from reaching the headquarters of the banks in Takoradi.
He said on April 4, 2007, the suspects went to a rural bank at Essiama to transact business when they were arrested by the police upon a tip-off.
He said the three suspects admitted their involvement and mentioned George Nyarko, Kwasi Appiah, Richard Gbegbego and Kofi Nsiah, who are all at large, as their accomplices.
He said it was not clear if other rural banks had suffered from the intelligence of the syndicate.
Credit: Daily Graphic