MURRAY HILL — A journalist covering the United Nations for an African news agency who also worked briefly for the UN was arrested for committing a series of bank robberies that netted him $10,000, police and officials said.
Abdullahi Shuaibu, 53, of Holliswood, Queens, was arrested Monday after his most recent attempted robbery when a retired police officer working at the UN recognized him from a wanted poster, the NYPD said.
During the first incident, on Feb. 27, Shuaibu passed a note to a teller at the Santander Bank at 330 Madison Ave., at 43rd Street, saying, "Give me $5,000 now. I have a gun. I will use it if you do not give me, I am very serious! Thanks for understanding," police and prosecutors said. He fled with $5,000, authorities said.
On March 13, he tried robbing the Bank of America at 750 Third Ave., at 47th Street, again passing the same note demanding money, but left empty-handed when the teller ignored him and walked away from the window, authorities said.
Shuaibu hit another Santander Bank at 1062 Third Ave. at 63rd Street on March 27 using the same demand note. He told the teller to "hurry up" and stated that he had a gun before making off with another $5,000, authorities said.
Finally, on Monday at 2:35 p.m., he tried robbing the HSBC Bank at 617 Third Ave., at 40th Street, by passing a demand note, but the teller didn't read it and asked that he show identification, police said. Shuaibu told the teller to "Read it. Check it," while keeping his hand in his jacket as if he had a weapon inside, but ultimately fled the bank empty-handed, officials said.
He returned to UN building shortly thereafter, where police were waiting for him, authorities said.
A United Nations spokesman said Shuaibu worked there in October and November 2013, noting he also spent time as a resident correspondent representing the News Agency of Nigeria up until 2012. However, the spokesman denied he was arrested at the UN.
Shuaibu's resume and social media accounts stated that he worked as a communications specialist for the UN from 2012 to 2013, as well working as a journalist for Panapress News Agency in Nigeria.
At his arraignment, he was charged with two counts of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery and grand larceny. The judge set his bail at $75,000 cash or $150,000 bond, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
He's being held at the Manhattan Detention Complex and is next due back in court on April 21, according to Department of Correction records.
His attorney did not return a call for comment on Wednesday.