September 23, 2023

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Customers Lose Millions to Fraudulent Bank Activities


CEM REPORT | The issues associated with banks especially the financial technology (fintech) banking is on the rise. More complaint have risen especially fraud related.

In a report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), customers of various banks in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), who were victims of the fraud unanimously agreed that fintech related fraud were more rampant in some banks than others.

They also alleged that most fraud in banks were being done in connivance with bank staff.

From various interviews carried out by the agency, it reported that,

Cyril Ibe, a customer of Access Bank Plc, said he transferred N30, 000 to a client from a POS but was surprised that the person did not receive the money till date.

According to him, when he visited the bank to complain, he was told that the money went into another client’s account which he was furnished with the details.

He frowned at the bank’s mistake, saying it had caused a friction in his relationship with his client.

“When I called my client whom the bank told me the money was wired into his account to refund the cash, he vehemently told me he did not receive any money but that he will check with his bank.

“When he eventually checked with his bank, there was no transaction of such because he printed his bank statement and forwarded same to me.

“I went back to Access Bank and requested for my statement, when they printed it, I found out that the money was not transferred into the account of my client that the bank accused.

“The money went into an account that I do not know the owner. I suspect something very fishy with the bank and as it stands, my money is hanging, ‘’

Paul Aliyu, another Access Bank Plc customer, said that customers had become victims of fraud for entrusting their resources to banks.

He said about N94,000 was deducted from his account to fund a purported loan that he did not apply for or collected.

”I received a message from Access Bank that my digital loan is due repayment that I should fund my account to avoid charge of one per cent on the outstanding loan.

”To the best of my knowledge, I have never gone to any bank to collect loan and I don’t pray to do it in my lifetime.

”Immediately, I went to the bank and complained and they said someone used my phone to collect the loan and I told them that my phone was stolen.

”I told them I didn’t apply for any loan and my money should not be tampered with but they told me that it is not possible.

”I applied for my bank statement to at least see the amount for the loan but to my surprise, there was no deduction of loan reflected in the bank statement.

”But they directed me to meet another official who handed another statement of account to me but the account number on the statement he gave me was not mine.

”He told me that they opened a loan account for me but I asked him how they can open a loan account for me without my consent,”

Aliyu said that he forwarded his complaints to the Consumer Protection Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said that it took the intervention of the CBN for his money to be refunded.

Aliyu wondered what would have been the fate of an ordinary citizen who was ignorant of the steps to take to recover his or her money.

”I wonder the measures that banks are putting in place to protect their customers monies, especially in this season of insecurity where phones and other gadgets owned by customers can be stolen from them easily.”

Halimat Sheji, a customer of First Bank Nigeria Plc, noted that she had experienced incessant unauthorised withdrawals from her account.

Sheji said the bank had yet to reverse or replace the money up till date, adding that each time she visited the bank she was told that they were doing something about it.

“I slotted my ATM card into a machine located somewhere in Abuja and withdrew N40,000.

“While still at the ATM spot, two men distracted me claiming to offer help which I refused but when I slotted my card again in the machine to continue my transaction, it showed me a “card reported lost, card retained’’.

“When I went into the banking hall to complain, the person in charge went to check the machine and came to inform me that my card was not among the cards he saw, he advised me to block the card and also freeze the account.

“Immediately I authorised the freezing of my account on March 5, but to my amazement, when I re-opened the account on March 14, I was told that a Point of Sale (PoS) was used to withdraw N123,400 from my account in two instalment of N100,900 and N22,500.

“My contention now is how a withdrawal can be made from an account that has been frozen and ATM card blocked,’’

Annabel Itua, a Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), customer, frowned that failed transactions done also attracted charges from the bank.

“When you do a transaction and it fails and is reversed, the banks don’t reverse the charges collected from the transactions.

“They will only reverse your money and this is what I call `robbing Peter to pay Paul’.

“The fault of the failed transaction is from them, but the customer will now bear the brunt by paying for it.

“The money might not be much with one customer but if they do it to one thousand customers, they will be making so much money. This is very unfair,’’

Mr James Onovo, another customer of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), said that N50,000 was withdrawn from his account without his knowledge.

Onovo appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other agencies involved in financial matters to look into the increasing cases of banking fraud.

Mr Inu Atoh, a customer with United Bank for Africa (UBA) said that banking fraud was gradually advancing to the vulnerability of customers.

Atoh urged relevant authorities to address the issues, saying it goes against the financial inclusion initiative of the CBN.

”These days, I will rather keep my money at home and be safe than take it to the bank and be told stories about my hard earned money,”

In a discussion with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the issues, the commission said most banking fraud the commission had handled revealed that bank employees aided the acts.

[READ ALSO] AMMBAN Bracing Up to Regulate POS Operations

Head, Cybercrime Section of the Commission, Abbah Sambo, said that the acts were mostly perpetrated by insider Information, Communication Technology (ICT), employees of banks.

He added that in previous years, people involved in cybercrime were not ICT savvy, but today, it is ICT graduates that were champions in perpetrating the crime.

Sambo also expressed regret at the increasing rate of cybercrime in spite of best efforts by the commission to tackle it.

NAN report added that bank officials were contacted over the statement of customers. The officials said some unauthorised withdrawals were done by hackers who penetrated their banks’ database.

The officials who pleaded anonymity added that banks were doing all they could to protect their customers’ data and funds.

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