Khmer Times/Buth Reaksmey Kongkea Wednesday, 18 January 2017 4664 views

Nigerian footballers tried for theft

Seven men, including six former Nigerian football players and a Cambodian interpreter, were tried by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for their alleged involvement in hacking bank card PIN numbers and stealing money from Australian bank accounts in 2016.  
 

Judge Top Chhun Heng said the six Nigerian men were Obebunmi Olasunkani Frank, 32, Ademiluyi Gbenga Adegoke, 24, Taiwo Temitope Olakun, 30, Njoku David, 27, Obebunmi Oluwanifise Oluwansesan, 44, and Abudunrin Seyi Abodunde, 39, while the Cambodian was identified as Ing Vannak, 29.
 

He said the Nigerians were former footballers with Phreah Khan Reach FC and Phnom Penh Crown FC in Cambodia.
 

The seven suspects were charged with theft under articles 353 and 356 of the Criminal Code after being arrested by the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism and international crime police department in Phnom Penh with collaboration from Australian police on May 26, 2016.  
 

Judge Chhun Heng said that in early 2016, the six accused Nigerians conspired with a group of Nigerians living in Australia to hack many people’s PIN numbers and steal money from their accounts.  
 

He added that after stealing people’s money in Australia, the Nigerians living in Australia then shipped sports products to the Nigerians in Cambodia for resale.
 

They then sold the goods, kept a profit and transferred the rest of the money to the group in Australia.

 

For their business in Cambodia, they hired Mr. Vannak to work with them as an interpreter, the judge said.  
 

At yesterday’s trial, the seven accused denied the accusations. They all denied knowing the Nigerian group in Australia.
 

They also denied committing the things they were accused of. They said they had never used and did not know how to use credit cards and claimed to not know the technology used to hack the PIN numbers.
 

Mr. David said he was a professional footballer in Nigeria and had played in Cambodia with the Preah Khan Reach Football Club since 2008.  
 

He said he had never done anything wrong in the eight years he lived in the kingdom prior to his arrest.
 

“While staying in Cambodia, I had a real job as a professional footballer. I worked and played for Preah Khan Reach Football Club in Phnom Penh,” he told the court yesterday.
 

“I do not know the Nigerian group living in Australia. I know nothing about this case.
 

“I did not do anything,” he said. “I am only the victim of police arrest.”
 

He said he was arrested after he traveled with his friend, Mr. Frank, to receive a parcel sent from Australia at DHL Express in Phnom Penh on the morning of May 26, 2016.  
 

Mr. Frank told the court that he came to Cambodia in 2012 to train and play football with Mr. David.  
 

He said his mother lived in Australia as she was married to an Australian man there.  
 

Mr. Frank added that before his arrest in 2016, his mother sent him sports products three times for resale in Cambodia.
 

“I acknowledge that I received sports material that was sent from Australia three times to sell in Cambodia. But it belonged to my mom.
 

“She sent it to me to sell and do business in Cambodia,” he said.  
 

“It was unrelated to the Nigerian group that allegedly hacked the secret numbers from credit cards in Australia. I have never used a credit card.
 

“I don’t know how to use them. I also don’t know this technology.”
 

He said that every time he contacted his mother in Australia or other friends abroad, he used the phone or Skype.  
 

Mr. Vannak, the Cambodian, also claimed to be uninvolved with this case.  
 

Among the six Nigerians, Mr. Vannak said he only knew three of them – Mr. Frank, Mr. Oluwansesan and Mr. Adegoke – because they had hired him for interpretation.  
 

“I am innocent. I would like to ask the court to drop my charges and release me,” he said.  
 

Their trial continues today.

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