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Banks Battle Fraudsters over Fake Alerts

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Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country are stepping up measures to check the activities of fraudsters who defraud some Nigerians through fake bank alerts scam.

 

According to findings by New Telegraph, banks have been getting increasing reports of fraudsters using fake bank SMS notifications to dupe their (banks’) customers.

 

According to sources, while most bank customers sign up for SMS notifications as these help account holders track movement in their accounts, fraudsters pose as potential buyers of goods or services provided by the bank customer and after both parties have agreed on a price, send fake SMS’s indicating they have deposited money into the sellers’ account.

 

The criminals usually count on their target, believing the SMS is real and would not bother to confirm with his/her bank before releasing the goods.

 

Commenting on the issue, a top official of a new generation bank, who did not want to be named, said that lenders were concerned about the development and were mulling measures to address it. He revealed that one of the steps being considered was for banks to change the format of their SMS notifications in such a way that these alerts will contain security features that will be impossible for fraudsters to copy.

 

The official explained that the current format of bank alerts could be easily duplicated by fraudsters who send the fake alert to their target in the same manner bulk SMS are sent.

 

The said: “It is very easy these days for anyone who wants to send a fake bank alert to do this by closely studying the format in which the target’s bank sends its alerts. When the fraudster masters the format, he can, just by using Google search, send a fake alert to the target’s phone.”

 

Stressing that cybercrime, particularly in Internet banking, remains high, the official advised people to always double  check any alert they receive from their bank.

 

 

 

“Any person receiving a credit alert should contact their account officers or someone in the bank to confirm the transaction. People can also look at their bank statement to make sure that the money was in fact deposited,” the official stated, adding that people must be extremely cautious, especially when they receive a bank alert that is occasioned by a transaction with a person that is not too well known to them.

 

Also, in a chat with this newspaper, head, operations at a Lagos branch of a Tier 2 bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, insisted that fraud is so rampant in the system that account holders should always ensure that they cross check all SMS notifications that they get with their financial institutions.

 

The official said: “Fake bank alerts is not really a new scam. In fact, fraudsters have so upgraded their ‘skills’ that the advice I usually give to customers is to ensure that they have someone in the bank that they can ask to confirm any transaction on their accounts. Only recently, one of our customers complained that a friend of his, from whom he  had purchased a product, claimed that the payment did not hit his account a week after the transaction was done.

 

“Meanwhile, our records showed that the funds actually left our bank and that the seller’s account ought to have been credited. When we requested him (seller) to produce his bank statement, he actually brought a fake statement that seemed to prove that the money did not hit his account. It took further investigations in collaboration with his bank head office to show that he was lying.”

 

Interestingly, financial experts attribute the rampant fraud in the system to the high level of unemployment in the country. For instance, data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows that the banking sector recorded 31,736 fraud cases involving the sum of N16.5 billion between January 2014 and December 2016.

 

The fraud statistics, which are contained in the Nigerian Electronic Fraud Report, prepared by CBN’s Banking and Systems Payment Department, indicate that the frauds were perpetrated through various payment channels in the banking sector such as Across the Counter, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), cheques, Internet banking, mobile banking, Point-of-Sale and web transactions.

 

The study stated that in the last three years, there had been more attempts in the number of fraud cases, adding that the development might be linked to the economic hardship being experienced in the country.

 

Specifically, the report stated that the volume of fraud cases rose by 635.3 per cent from 1,461 incidents in 2014 to 10,743 in 2015. Between 2015 and 2016, the report stated that the incidents of fraud rose by 81.8 per cent from 10,743 to 19,532 cases.

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E-Financial

AfDB Supports Gabon’s Optic Fiber Backbone Project

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The African Development Bank and the Gabonese National Agency for Numerical Infrastructure and Frequency (ANINF) have signed agreements a feasibility study for the country’s component of the Central African Backbone (CAB) project.

The project is an integrated, innovative and transformative infrastructure which consists of completing the 901.8 km fiber optic connectivity to cover 14 missing links on the Gabonese national backbone.

The project will enhance regional integration in the Central Africa region through fiber optic infrastructure enabling cross-border interconnection exchange with neighboring countries –  Congo, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea. It will open up opportunities that will integrate Gabon in the information and communications community, among other initiatives poised to close the digital divide especially in rural areas and empower marginal communities.

The total project preparation cost is US$ 900,000 provided by the Bank through the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility Special Fund (NEPAD-IPPF) which enables African countries to prepare bankable regional infrastructure projects to promote integration to support socio-economic transformation. The Bank will coordinate the preparation, structuring, and packaging of the project as lead arranger to ensure subsequent funding and implementation.

The CAB-Gabon project is considered to be among the most innovative digital projects that the Bank plans to implement.  Sponsors will be identified to participate in the project under a win-win collaborative partnership with global players to invest in the best ICT technologies.

The envisaged large internet broadband will boost regional integration with Gabon endowed with the largest ICT hub in Central Africa and able to attract international companies within the central free trade zone with innovations in various sectors. Digital innovations that that can be derived from the project will include services such as the duty-free money transfers.

The financing of fiber optics and e-government infrastructures (datacenters) in Central Africa will significantly lower the cost of internet fees considered to be the highest on the global scale and will add competitiveness to regional exchanges and provide an important demonstration effect for new public and private sector infrastructure projects in the region.

The Agreement was signed on 20th February 2018 by the Director General of ANINF, Bernard Bongo Odimba and Mr. the Bank’s Director-General for Central Africa,  Ousmane Dore.

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CBN Mandates Banks to Settle Customers’ Complaints within Two Weeks

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed banks and other financial institutions to settle customers’ complaints on issues of overcharge, unauthorised deductions and other matters within two weeks.

The CBN Head of Complaints Management Division, Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the CBN would ensure that bank customers get a redress on issues of excess charges or unauthorised withdrawals.

Ahmed reiterated the apex bank’s commitment to eradicating excess and arbitrary charges.

According to him, the CBN has since issued a circular which could be found on its website, showing all legitimate bank charges.

He said that any charge outside what is stated in the circular is not allowed.

“The consumer protection department issued guidelines to banks dated August 16, 2011, directing all banks and other financial institutions to resolve all customer complaints within two weeks of receipt.

“Before the expiration of that complaint, the financial institution is expected to be engaging the customer on a continuous basis to update him or her on the status of the complaint.

“If it is not resolved within the deadline given, then such a person is encouraged to draw the attention of Central Bank of Nigeria to the complaint,” he said.

Ahmed advised customers with unresolved complaints to contact the CBN by writing to the Director Consumer Protection Department or send an email to cbd@cbn.gov.ng.

He also advised dissatisfied bank customers to visit any branch of the CBN closest to them to make their complaints.

“The CBN continually engages the banks to find out if their conduct and practices are fair to their customers in order to stimulate people’s confidence in the banking system.

“Non-adherence to that normally results to regulatory sanctions, as the case may be,” he said.

Ahmed also faulted banks for setting a limit on ATM withdrawals.

“I have also observed and noted this. Don’t forget that at the beginning, it wasn’t like this. Over time, we started having this problem.

“One of the reasons is that the quantum of N500 denomination is much more than that of N1,000 denomination.

“When we approached the banks about these problems, they said the machines become easily faulty when it is set to dispense up to N30,000 to N40,000 units.

“However, CBN has directed that the machines that allow payment of up to N30,000 to N50,000 should be installed.

“This is still ongoing. The Banking and Payment Department of the CBN is championing it,” he said.

Also, the Head of Consumer Protection Division, Mrs. Hadija Kasim, said bank customers could also avoid some of these issues by inculcating the habit of cashless policy.

She reminded the public that there were various methods to make payments rather than carrying cash.

“Let’s not forget that ATM cards can also be used on Point of Sale (POS) terminals.

“We are encouraging people that unless it is absolutely necessary, they should reduce the carriage of cash.

“Cashless transactions are more convenient, safer and you will avoid the problem of overcharges,” she said.

Kasim also advised bank consumers to use bank transfer channels for transactions in cases where sellers do not have POS.

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Nigerian Bank Investors Lose N100Bn in 2 Days

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Investors with shares in the banking sector on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) have lost over N100.8 billion in two trading days of the week, a report this morning by Vanguard said.

 

It said that while 11 out of the 16 banks in the NSE began losing prices in the market on Monday, the remaining joined by Tuesday, except United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA).

 

The report listed banks that appreciated to include: Access Bank (5 kobo) per share to close at N12.56 per share from N12.60 per share, GTBank gained N1.00 per share to close at N47.50 per share, from N46.50 per share, Fidelity Bank gained (8kobo) per share to close at N3.28 per share from N3.20 per share and Jaiz Bank gained 4 kobo per share to close at N1.04 per share from N1.00 per share.

 

However, during Tuesday trading session, all the banks’ share prices dropped except UBA which gained 20 kobo per share to close at N12.20 from N12.00 per share it closed on Monday.

 

The report blamed the trend on the recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that restricted dividend payments by banks with high Non Performing Loans (NPLs) and low Capital Adequacy Ratio, CAR from paying dividend to their shareholders.

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