By Victor Angula|

First National Bank Namibia (FNB) does not seem to take a serious concern about a scam which in the recent months has targeted ewallet users who have banking accounts with the bank.

One victim of the scam told Omutumwa that she lost money from her ewallet account two times, but she did not get a satisfactory answer from FNB as to what happened.

“I sell flowers, so that most of my clients do pay by sending ewallets to my phone. But one day someone who pretended to be interested in buying flowers called me, and while we were on the line talking she asked if she could send me an ewallet right away.

“I said that it was okay, although I started wondering why she couldn’t wait to hang up. Then right away an OTP message reported to my phone, and when I confirmed that I received the payment she hung up.”

When the businesswoman checked the OTP message it was not showing any payment but had all signs of a spam message from the bank.

“About two weeks later I received a genuine ewallet from another client, and two days later when I went to an ATM to withdraw the money it was showing on my ewallet balance that there was nothing.

“I called the bank and I was told that the only way to assist me was if I can open a police case. I thought that N$350 was too little money for me to go through the trouble of opening a police case.

“The next time I received an ewallet I was quick to withdraw the money. But the third time I took two days, and when I got to the ATM it was showing that the money had been withdrawn already.

“When I went in the bank, the attitude of the bank employee who attended to me was not satisfactory. After spending the whole day in the bank it was only late in the afternoon when I was properly listened to, but I was told to come back the next day.

“The next day I didn’t find the lady who had talked to me the previous day although she had given me her name. Now another lady said that my account had been linked to the phone of the scammer. But she just said that I should give her my phone so that she can delink my account. And she could not provide answers to my questions about how the scam works, unless I open a police case.

“I went to open a case, and the police asked me to buy a USB so that they can put in the images of the person who had withdrawn the money if such images will be found on the CCTV camera at the ATM. It’s been a month now, and I’m still waiting to hear from the police.”

Contacted for comment FNB Namibia communications manager Ms Elzita Beukes said that the bank had sent out information warning its clients about the scam.

When Omutumwa said that he was not aware about the circulation of such information, Beukes sent by email a press release titled “How to Avoid Getting Scammed as an eWallet User” dated 28 April 2022.

“FNB Namibia is warning customers again of the eWallet scam, where fraudsters access and manage customers’ eWallet accounts on the FNB App. We have seen this scam making the rounds again and urge our customers to take note of how it works to protect themselves,” says Elzita Beukes, FNB Communications Manager.

“First, the fraudster will select a random cellphone number and attempt to link the eWallet of the selected number to their own smartphone, which triggers a notification (with an OTP – one time pin) asking to confirm if customer is indeed the one attempting to link their wallet.

“The fraudster then calls the client with a fake excuse to attempt to obtain the OTP.
Unsuspecting clients then give up the OTP which allows the fraudsters access to their eWallets for future transfers and withdrawals.

“We would like to tell our customers that the OTP is sufficient control as it seeks authorisation of the account/wallet holder. As with any PIN or password – do not give your OTP to anyone as this step is crucial to protecting your funds.

“If anyone calls you claiming to be from the bank, and asks you for your OTP or a pin or password of any kind, hang up the phone immediately and report the incident to the bank.

“We reiterate again that FNB, will never request any security information from you over the phone and you, in turn should never give out any information over the phone. Please remain vigilant and protect your hard-earned cash at all times, Beukes concluded.”

The same statement was also translated into Afrikaans. The email from Beukes also consisted of two audio recordings, one in English and another in Afrikaans, warning members of the public about the scam.

Omutumwa requested for more information from Beukes as follows:

“It seems that the bank (FNB) has not taken the scam serious in protecting its clients. Fraudsters are using their skills in getting access to money which is in the possession of the bank, but the bank is trying to pass the blame on to the clients instead of taking some form of responsibility in that it is the bank’s security system that has been compromised so much so that a fake OTP can be created using the bank’s app system.

“This fraud could also be a result of unscrupulous employees of the bank who may work in cahoots with criminals.

“Yet the bank (FNB) has not taken a proactive approach, but passively put out feeble messages which are meant to warn the public about the scam.

“1. Can you say that the messages the bank has sent out are enough vis-a-vis the seriousness of the scam?

“2. And can the bank also take some form of responsibility in that the money which the scammers are accessing is in the possession of the bank and not in the possession of its clients?”

However Beukes did not respond to this email, and she could no longer be reached since her mobile phone seemed to have been switched off despite several attempts over several weeks.

In the photo: FNB Namibia Group’s communications manager Ms Elzita Beukes.