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  • Victims recount ordeals
  • How the transfers are done – Bankers

Investigations by The Point have revealed how some bank officials fraudulently transfer funds from the accounts of unsuspecting depositors to take care of personal or business needs. According to findings, the affected accounts are usually those of depositors who do not subscribe to the Short Message Service alert.

Our correspondent gathered that, while some of the bank officials invest the money in businesses and refund later, others, who target aged depositors or dormant accounts, do not refund, especially if there are no complaints from their victims.

Some of the depositors, who spoke in separate interviews with The Point, revealed that different sums of money were deducted from their accounts in bits over a period of two to four months.

A retired civil servant, who preferred to be called Mama Esther, told The Point that she deposited N3 million in the Isolo branch of her bank, reputed to be one of the top three in the country, before travelling to the United Kingdom in October 2015.

To her dismay, she found that a sum of N200,000 had been deducted three times from her account by an unknown person.

“The customer care officer told me I had signed four cheques of N200,000 each to withdraw the said amount. Initially, it was funny because I had never used the cheque booklet, not to talk of signing blank leaflets,” she narrated.

After threatening to publish her story in the media, she said the bank manager invited her to his office and pleaded that the case should be settled amicably.

“I was dumbfounded when he told me it was a mistake on the part of a bank that claims to be among the top three in Nigeria. After much trouble, he promised that the money would be returned to my account, and it was returned last December,” she added.

Our correspondent gathered that one of the officials of the bank might have fraudulently withdrawn the money with the aim of returning it without being noticed.

Another customer of a conservative bank, who preferred not to be named, said he had to withdraw all his money from a branch of the bank in Ibadan the day he found that N350,000 had disappeared without concrete explanation.

He said, “I didn’t subscribe to the SMS alert because some of my colleagues said fraudsters could use the information, especially if the phone was kept carelessly. But on this day, I needed to submit my statement of account along with other documents at the French embassy. So, I went in person to ask for a print-out from my bank.

“I checked through the pages and saw a transfer of N350,000, which was done two days before then. I was alarmed and quickly told the staff that attended to me that the bank had stolen my money. At first, he laughed, but when he listened carefully, he knew there was trouble.”

The depositor, a fashion expert, said the matter became very complex when two members of staff were told to go on suspension. “After about two weeks, I insisted that I wanted my money back immediately or I would go to my lawyers and the press. But the senior management of the bank did not allow that to happen. They blamed it on ‘transfer error’ and refunded my money nine days after. But my banker friends said they only wanted to cover up because there could only be a transfer error if the owner of the account initiated it,” he added.

While these were clear cases of insider abuse of depositors’ accounts, findings also revealed common errors that could have been the fault of either the sender or bank officials. A nurse, Mrs. Morenikeji Oni, a customer of the same top bank involved in the N600,000 fraudulent withdrawal, said N100,000 was deposited in her account in March 2014, a month to her wedding.

“I thought the money was sent to me by well-wishers who had promised to send me money and I didn’t waste time to withdraw N20,000 from it. But to my surprise, someone called me from the bank later, begging me to refund the money, that it was not mine. Immediately, the remaining N80,000 was deducted from my account,” she narrated. She told The Point that she had to

For the concluding part of this story and others, grab your copy of The Point from your nearest vendor

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