Cases of cash theft/suppression and fraudulent transfer/withdrawals marred an otherwise profitable year for Access Bank, according to the bank’s financial statement for 2019. The Bank reported ₦97.5 billion profit after tax for the year.
However, cases of fraud and forgeries have become a recurring problem for financial institutions in Nigeria.
Fraudulent transfers and withdrawals occurred 38 times in the year 2019 and resulted in the loss of ₦122,120,354 naira which accounted for 36.43% of the total loss for Access Bank. Cash theft and suppression occurred 73 times and resulted in the loss of ₦100,443,185 which accounted for 29.96% of the total loss.
Surprisingly, ATM/electronic fraud occurred 5,715 times but could not result in any loss for the bank. This is in stark contrast with the situation in the 2018 reports. In 2018, ATM/electronic fraud occurred 4,108 times and resulted in the loss of ₦385,758,558 and this amounted to 80.77% of the total loss for the bank in the year.
Meanwhile, cash theft/suppression had, in 2018, occurred 15 times and resulted in the loss of ₦13,123,214 which constituted 2.75% of the total loss. Fraudulent transfers and withdrawals had occurred 20 times and led to the loss of ₦20,024,919 which amounted to 4.19% of the total loss for the bank in 2018.
It is instructive to note that of the 2,206 fraud cases in 2017, 98% was related to cards/E-Channels/USSD frauds which accounted for ₦86.94 million. The bank, in 2017, also recorded 3 cases of successful robbery incidents which led to a loss of ₦11.19 million.
Interestingly, the bank had become alarmed to a recurring incident of fraud in 2017 and had published some measures they had put in place to check the ugly trends:
- More focus on cybercrime intelligence and prevention
- Proactive monitoring by Anti- Fraud Unit
- Zero tolerance for staff fraud. Dismissal and prosecution of any staff involved in fraud.
- Training and awareness of fraud risk issues
- Customer awareness through emails, SMS and ATMs.
- Background checks on staff
- Collaboration with other industry operators to frustrate fraud attempts
In fairness to the bank, the incident of ATM/Electronic fraud has been tackled with tremendous results but cases of fraudulent transfer/withdrawals, cash theft/suppression and cyber attack are on the increase resulting in huge losses to the bank. This makes the whole situation more worrisome because, in spite of the measures announced, the rate of frauds in the bank is on the increase. At the centre of most of these fraudulent acts are the staff members of the bank themselves as the majority of the frauds would not be successful without the support of internal collaborators.
We can only hope the ugly trend is arrested before it gets out of hand. We also hope that the reiterated commitment of Access Bank to whistleblowing is upheld. Banks have to be up and doing in their responsibilities to their customers and the societies at large.