Thieves targeting FNB customers through eWallet

Pelagia Joseph

First National Bank of Namibia says some of their clients are experiencing theft through eWallet due to possibly being scammed into sharing their pins.

This comes after several customers recently complained on social media that their money is being withdrawn via the eWallet facility.

FNB eWallet allows customers to send money to anyone with a Namibian cellphone number.

The money is transferred instantly and can be used to withdraw cash from FNB ATMs or to buy prepaid airtime.

Commercial banks, including FNB, have been issuing regular notices to customers, warning them about possible scams.

FNB retail executive Nangula Kauluma says the only cases of fraud have occurred due to one-time pins (OTPs) being compromised, “when customers have been tricked by fraudsters to share their pin with them”.

She says the bank has comprehensive safeguards to shield customers against fraud and to safeguard their assets.

Kauluma says only bank-registered customers who have undergone verified know-your-customer processes can access the system and may require further examination.

She says customers, however, also have a role to play in maintaining the confidentiality of their passwords and OTPs.
Kauluma says the bank’s current policy does not provide refunds for customers who have been scammed due to them allowing fraudsters access to their accounts.

“Considering over 1,3 million eWallet accounts exist currently, the temptation for fraudsters to get into these wallets is very high,” she says.

Kauluma says that when funds are removed from an eWallet account, it is not necessarily at the time a customer had mistakenly shared their OTP.

“The inadvertent sharing of an OTP could have happened months ago, but when you get funds into a compromised account, then the fraudster acts to steal your funds. They can only do this because at some time they were given your OTP that only you received on your device.”

A Windhoek-based FNB client, Ezra Kaleb, is a teacher at a private school. She says she was recently on her way to the nearest FNB ATM when she received a notification on her phone, indicating a withdrawal of N$5 000 which she had just received via the eWallet platform.

“At first it all seemed like a joke. I didn’t believe the money was gone, because I’m confident I had not shared my one-time password with anyone.

“As soon as I noticed my balance was zero, I called FNB, and the lady informed me that opening a police case would be a waste of time as this is happening to a lot of people,” she says.

Kaleb says she was going to buy her newborn nappies with the money, as well as other necessities.

“I visited the bank, and all they could tell me was that it was my fault because I may have shared my pin with someone. That got me really angry.

“I am very disappointed, because I have not received my money back,” she says.

Tsumeb-based content creator Pelagia Joseph, who is known on social media as ‘Mulongo Hipinge’, on 21 August took to social media to express her dissatisfaction after she realised money sent to her via eWallet was withdrawn by an unknown person.

“I received an amount of N$300 from a client at 06h50, and around 08h02 I received a notification from FNB through a text message that someone had requested a pin to withdraw the money.

“When I requested the balance, I noticed there was only 35 cents left,” she said.
Joseph urged FNB to improve its security services.

She said she tried calling FNB and was told the money had been withdrawn already.

“I am not the only one who has lost money through eWallets. Many people have shared their experiences, after I posted my video, on how they have lost their money through scammers,” Joseph said.

Windhoek resident Sam Johannes says he sent an aquaintance an N$500 via eWallet in February.

“I sent the money to a person who is also based in Windhoek, who claims to not have been able to withdraw her money. When I contacted FNB they told me the money had been withdrawn at Oshakati,” he says.

Johannes says he still does not know who withdrew the money, since no action has been taken.

He says both the sender and the receiver of the money have lost out on the transaction.

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