File photo: Phones

An ex-convict, who goes simply by the name Steve, has talked extensively on how phone thieves successfully make money after operation.

The 26-year-old graduate of Economics opted for thievery after he failed to secure a decent job, and the option of relationship fraud did not sound lucrative to him.

In an interview with The Sun, the now repented thief disclosed that he discovered the power of stolen phones and SIM cards after he learnt that SIMs with empty bank accounts are still an asset.

“Even if you think make them steal na, nothing dey my account, think again because once these people collect your phone, they can collect up to as much as N300,000. YES!”

Speaking on his operations, he said:

“We normally buy some of these SIM cards at Orile or Mushin. The people who collect these stolen phones do not know how to use them and they know about our trade. This is why we pay for it before it is given. It depends on the area where such phone is stolen and the time of the week. It’s more expensive if it is gotten from Ikeja, Lekki, Alaba International market or Oshodi. The owners are mainly businessmen and women and there must be money in their accounts.”

Steve disclosed that once they gain access to SIM cards, they transfer them into cheap phones and activate codes that prevent police or the owner from tracking.

“After untracking the phone, if I want to reset the PIN, it will ask for the account number of the person and date of birth. The account number, some do save it on their contacts and some don’t. Sometimes we are lucky and see passwords, so if I see the account number on the contact, I will use the person’s BVN to bring out all their details, including date of birth.

“When all the details are revealed, I’ll now register with the bank of the person involved. I will start by changing the pin number of that account and I can then carry out my transfers or use it to buy products before the owner will alert his bank. Like I said, we pay more money for SIM cards stolen at night or on weekends.

“This is to give us enough time to withdraw as much as we can before Monday when the banks will resume for the week. We have accounts that cannot be traced and can be operated for a short period before the bank will start asking for personal identification. You can use anyone’s BVN to create the account or transfer it into another victim’s account and withdraw it from there. When the police or bank starts to investigate, they will discover what happened and let go of the person who is also a victim,” he said.

On how to be safe Steve advised that the best thing to do is lock the SIM card by activating a password.

“This can be done by your service provider. You can also put a withdrawal limit on your mobile banking application. If not, pray that thieves or your domestic servants will not steal your phones. We now reach out to domestic servants to steal SIM cards from their bosses, especially the very rich ones. The other alternative is to pray that nothing will happen to your phone. I feel so bad when I remember the families that I caused pain to. I wish I can trace all of them and pay them back. I have promised the police that I will never steal from anyone again. I am sorry,” he said.