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Ecobank

27.05.2024 Featured N2m Kept in Widow’s Ecobank Account Stolen. She Suspects 2 ‘Branch Managers’ in Lagos

Published 27th May, 2024

By Tola Owoyele

Oruku Caroline, a Lagos State-based widow, has narrated how N2,133,922.42 was fraudulently withdrawn from her Ecobank account by unknown persons.

Oruku, 76, told FIJ that the incident happened on March 3, 2023, after she authorised two cheque withdrawals on the account.

“On the day of the incident, I issued two cheque instructions to the Ecobank branch on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, for two transfers to be made to two of my children’s accounts,” said Oruku.

“The instruction I gave the bank branch was for it to transfer N25,000 and N20,000, respectively, to them. This means the bank was supposed to transfer just N45,000 in total to the two recipients.”

Oruku said she received a phone call from the branch’s manager after she sent the instructions to the bank.

READ ALSO: N520,100 Disappears From Businessman’s Zenith Bank Account

“The branch manager, a female, then called me to confirm the payments, and I duly gave her the go-ahead to treat the instructions,” said Oruku.

Statement of Account Oruku Obtained from Ecobank on the day the fraud was perpetrated
Statement of Account Oruku Obtained on the Day the Fraud Was Perpetrated

“Shortly after that, I received a second phone call from the same branch manager, this time via another phone number, asking me whether I had received a special code sent to me by Ecobank on my phone.

“When I confirmed I had indeed received a code, the bank manager instructed me to write the code on a paper, describing it as the new PIN that would secure my account, and then hung up.”

SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE OF N2,133,922.42

The widow said she subsequently started receiving strange debit alerts on her phone and ended up getting debited for the two transactions she had authorised and the ones she neither authorised nor carried out herself.

“In the end, I lost a total sum of  N2,133,922.42 on the same day,” said Oruku.

“When I physically visited the branch that same evening, the security officials at the branch initially prevented me from going into the banking hall.

“This then led to me screaming at the top of my voice within the bank’s premises.

“When I wouldn’t stop screaming, a lady, with a look of apprehension on her face emerged from within the banking hall and hurriedly ushered me inside.

“She then told me to stop creating a scene and introduced herself to me as the branch manager. She also told me she had placed both phone calls I had received to me.

READ ALSO: One Month After N300,000 Sent to POS Operator Failed to Reflect, Ecobank Is Still ‘Investigating

“From our conversation, I realised she was more concerned about making sure I made no further noise than helping me recover my stolen money. Her apprehensive look alone was quite disturbing.

“Without telling me how the issue would be resolved, she then hurriedly dismissed me and told me to come back the following Monday. As a matter of fact, the fraud was perpetrated on a Friday.”

ANOTHER LADY, ANOTHER BRANCH MANAGER

Oruku told FIJ that when she returned to the branch the following Monday, she met another lady, who introduced herself as the branch manager.

“It was entirely shocking when I got to the branch the following Monday, only to meet a totally different lady who introduced herself as the branch’s real manager,” said Oruku.

“At that point, my head started spinning, and I became confused.

“The real manager then said she was not at the branch on the Friday the incident happened. She, however, recognised the first number that had called me to confirm the N45,000 transactions, saying it was hers.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Student’s Visa on the Line As Ecobank Fails To Credit UK Varsity With School Fees

“She also went on to confirm to me that she only called me to confirm the first two cheque transactions.

“This then meant that the second lady, who I believe works in the same branch, had only impersonated the real branch manager to carry out the fraud.

“I was then asked to dial the second number the fake branch manager had used to call me, but unfortunately, it had been switched off.

“Another surprising act was that the real branch manager also subsequently collected my phone from me and acted as if she wanted to confirm the information on it. It was later on that I discovered that she had collected my phone to delete the fraudulent code that was sent to it.

“This then gave me the impression that there was a possibility both women had connived to steal the money from my account. If not, why would she, I mean the real branch manager, delete the message from my phone?

“Perhaps, they thought because I was old, I would not know.

“After this, I was compelled to visit Ecobank’s headquarters at Victoria Island to complain, but unfortunately, the senior officials I spoke with have not been able to help me recover my money ever since. I am sure both the real and fake branch managers worked in connivance to steal from me.

READ ALSO: After FIJ’s Story, Ecobank Releases POS Operator’s N300,000

“I don’t know why anyone will not fear God and will want to steal from an old widow.”

When FIJ sent an email to Ecobank’s customer care unit for a reaction to the allegation on Thursday evening, an automated response stating that the issue was being attended to was received two minutes later.

Since then, however, no other response has been received.

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Published 27th May, 2024

By Tola Owoyele

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