The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) today announced that its cybercrime center arrested Wilfred Bonse in connection to the breach of the cryptocurrency exchange, Patricia Technologies.
The police are still conducting investigations to arrest more suspects.
- In a press briefing, the NPF’s public relations officer (PRO), ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi said that Bonse was arrested on charges of conspiracy to launder N50 million naira from the 607 million naira diverted from Patricia’s company accounts.
- Adejobi added that Bonse’s arrest came as a result of the police’s trail of unnamed individuals that Patricia had mentioned in its petition reporting the breach.
- Per the police, Patricia had petitioned Nigeria’s inspector general of police to report an incidence of fraud involving the “modification of computer systems,” which resulted in the diversion of 200 million naira from the company’s Flutterwave account.
- Bonse, according to Adejobi, received 50 million naira from the stolen funds into his bank account through a crypto wallet.
- The NPF is still on the trail of other suspects and its investigations are still ongoing, the police PRO concluded.
- Mariblock reached out to Patricia for comments, but the company did not immediately respond.
- Highlighting Bonse’s involvement, Adejobi said:
“Wilfred Bonse conspired in laundering the sum of Fifty Million Naira (N50,000,000) originating from the fraudulent diversion of Six Hundred and Seven Million Naira (N607,000,000) from Patricia Technology company's account to his bank account through a cryptocurrency wallet.”
What we know
- Earlier this year, Patricia had announced in an email to its users that it lost $2 million of its customers’ bitcoin, naira and United States dollar assets in a security breach.
- Subsequently, in August, it launched a token — Patricia Token (PUTX) — to serve as debt securities in its aim to repay its customers and converted their outstanding bitcoin, naira and USD assets to the token.
- The tokens are designed to be redeemable when the company starts to make profit, PUTX’s white paper suggests.
- In a controversial move, Patricia Technologies announced a partnership with the trust company, DLM Trust.
- However, DLM Trust denied knowledge of a partnership, stating instead that Patricia had merely appointed it as escrow manager in its debt repayment drive. The trust company also unilaterally terminated its agreement to serve as Patricia’s escrow manager.
- The exchange expressed shock at this move but vowed to continue with its repayment plan on Nov. 20.
- Mariblock’s findings revealed that its customers had significant issues with accessing their accounts on the said date. Days later, several customers told Mariblock that they are still unable to redeem the PUTX tokens and access their funds.
What we don’t know
- Patricia did not disclose the exact amount of the bitcoin, naira and USD assets lost to the breach. Instead, it gave a lump sum of $2 million as the total sum of the stolen funds.
- Bitcoin, naira and USD assets cannot be held together in one single wallet, suggesting that the hack occurred across different wallets/accounts. It’s unclear how the breach occurred across different wallets/accounts in such coordinated manner that the Patricia team didn’t notice.
- In addition, the Nigerian police quoted two different figures as the amount of money moved from Patricia’s accounts. It is unclear exactly how much naira or USD Patricia was stolen from the company’s Flutterwave account.
- Last February, People’s Gazette accused a Wilfred Bonse, a candidate for the governorship position of Cross Rivers state, Nigeria, of being investigated by the police for receiving funds from the fraudulent hack of an unnamed financial account.
- Bonse rebuffed the allegations and threatened legal action against People’s Gazette for defamation.
- It is unclear if this Wilfred Bonse is the same one arrested by the NPF in relation to the theft of funds from Patricia’s account.