The last may not have been heard on a case of alleged fraud involving Sterling Bank Plc and one of its customers, Providence Heights Secondary School Staff Welfare Association, as the latter has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to wade into the crisis. The Witness learnt.
The customer had accused Sterling Bank of defrauding it to the tune of N1.2 million at the bank’s branch on Iju Road, Iju, in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos State.
According to the customer, on two occasions within a period of five months, millions of naira were withdrawn from its saving accounts with numbers 0000886683 and 0068955741.
Findings further revealed that on Thursday, 6 July 2018, the sum of N1,200, 000 was stolen from the saving account number 0000886683 by fraudsters probably working in tandem with some staff of the bank. The leadership of the association reported the theft to the bank management.
This newspaper gathered that after the official complaint on the theft by the association’s leadership, the bank refunded N500,000 to the association. When the association sought for the balance of N700,000, the bank management refused saying the N500,000 it refunded was the one intercepted from the N1, 200, 000 initially stolen.
While the association was struggling to recover the N700,000 balance, The Witness learnt that there was an election to usher in new executive members for the association and to prevent another theft saga, the new executive members opened a new savings account, 0068955741 with the same branch of Sterling Bank with new signatories.
But to the utter surprise of members of the association, we learnt that on Thursday, 1st November 2018, another N1, 700, 000 was stolen in several illegal withdrawals from the account.
Responding to The Witness’ inquiry, Sterling Bank’s spokesperson, Mr. Olubukola Adejokun, however, denied the allegations, stressing that the confidentiality and security of financial information tied to the association’s accounts were compromised by its executives.
The statement reads: “Sterling Bank is not in a fix over the fraudulent transaction referenced. It was investigated with the outcome indicating that confidentiality and security of financial information tied to the association’s accounts were compromised by its executives. We take the protection of the financial information of our customers seriously by always updating policies and procedures to stay ahead of new strategies used by fraudsters. The bank also understands that customers have a role to play in keeping their financial information safe out of the reach of fraudsters, and are consistently educating them to protect their identity, smartphones, accounts, avoid suspicious emails, text or phone calls.
“The ex-chairman of the welfare account reported a case of N1.2 million after his phone was stolen and fraudulent transactions done through USSD, Flutterwave and mobile app on the 6th of July 2018. He, however, reported to the bank on 9th of July 2018 after the fraud had happened. We were able to salvage the sum of N500,000.00 and deactivated the account across our e-channel platforms.
“Immediately the issue was reported, we contacted the respective banks where the funds were transferred if we could still salvage the funds. We were able to salvage the sum of N500,000.00 and this had been credited to the customer’s account and was acknowledged by the customer.
“The custodian of the account (ex-chairman of the welfare account) failed to report incidence of stolen phone to the bank immediately it happened which would have ensured the deactivation of his account across all our e-channel platforms and ultimately prevent the fraud.
“The account was linked to one of the signatories’ personal account after his account had been profiled on Sterling Mobile platform using his registered mobile line and personal debit card details (PAN, CVV, expiry date & PIN). The customer’s account was debited with the sum of N1,746,000.00 and funds transferred to two banks and also used for virtual top-up. We contacted the beneficiary banks with the sum of N129,000 salvaged.
“The association’s executive who had his personal account profiled on Sterling Mobile and linked to the welfare account, confirmed that he was called by someone who claimed to be from the bank and in the process, divulged his card details – PAN, CVV, expiry date and PIN to this supposed staff. The divulged card details were subsequently used for the fraudulent transactions,” the bank concluded.
The Witness further learnt that the EFCC has begun investigation into the matter.
Though, Sterling Bank recently unveiled a new logo aimed at driving its mission to be Nigeria’s foremost bank, delivering highly impactful and valuable solutions to its customers, depositors have continued to wonder how safe their monies are with the lender as the financial institution has allegedly become a haven for fraudulent officials.
Recall, a staff, one Ebenezer Alonge, a cashier with Sterling Bank’s Ado-Ekiti branch, alongside his wife, Isakunle Oyinlola and his mother-in-law, Isakunle Moradeke, were recently arraigned by the EFCC for allegedly diverting N2.4m deposited by a customer.
One of the charges preferred against them read: That you Ebenezer Adeolu Alonge ‘M’, Isakunle Olamide Oyinlola ‘F’ and Isakunle Eunice Moradeke ‘F’ between the month of January 2017 and March 2017, at the premises of Sterling Bank PLC Ado-Ekiti branch, did steal the sum of N2,400,800.00 (two million, four hundred thousand and eight hundred naira) only, property of Sterling Bank, by diverting same to the personal account of Isakunle Olamide Oyinlola with account number, 0047750660 and the personal account of Isakunle Eunice Moradeke with account number 0064222881, all with the Sterling Bank, Ado-Ekiti branch, being money for Ekiti State primary and secondary education development levy, and thereby committed an offence.”
According to a statement by the EFCC acting spokesman, Tony Orilade in Abuja, it was alleged that sometime in February, Sterling Bank received a complaint bordering on financial impropriety involving N62,400 belonging to a customer.
“The incident was investigated and another sum of N2,400,800 belonging to a customer was found to have been diverted by Alonge to his wife’s account.
“Further investigation revealed that there was a turnover of over N21m deposit from other customers in Alonge’s wife’s account.
“Other sums were reportedly traced to his mother-in-law’s account,” said EFCC.