ALARMING: 24 Nigerian Banks lose N9.75bn to internet fraud

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Deposit money banks in Nigeria have reported a sharp rise in fraud cases and the amount of money lost in the second quarter of 2023, Q2’23.

The latest report also shows that the number of insider involvement rose astronomically.

The total amount involved in the fraud cases during the period rose to N9.75 billion, up by a whopping 276.98 per cent from N2.58 billion in the preceding quarter, Q1’23.

The total losses to the incident amounted to N5.79 billion during the period, representing a staggering 1,125 per cent rise compared with N472 million lost in the first quarter (Q1’23).

This was revealed in the new report released yesterday by the Financial Institutions Training Centre, FITC, on Fraud and Forgeries in Nigerian banks for Q2’23.

FITC further noted that the losses were recorded by 24 banks that filed their returns on fraud cases for the period, adding that outsider involvement in the fraud cases dropped by 6.4 per cent, while staff involvement rose by 22.2 per cent within the period.

FITC is owned by the Banker’s Committee, which comprises the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, all licensed banks, and discount houses in Nigeria.

It was established to provide innovative knowledge solutions and capacity building programmes that develop and strengthen resources for the Nigerian financial services sector.

According to the FITC report, fraudulent loans accounted for the highest loss at 94.35 percent with a value of N5.46 billion, followed by mobile fraud, which accounted for 3.39 per cent of the total loss amounting to N196 million.

*Minimal computer fraud*

Computer/Web (internet) fraud was minimal, accounting for only one percent of the total losses at N59.5 million during the period.

The report stated: “During the second quarter of 2023, there were 11,679 reported cases, showing a 6.96 per cent decrease compared to the 12,553 cases in the first quarter. However, the data indicates a significant increase in the total amount involved in fraud cases. The amount rose from N2.59 billion in the previous quarter to N9.75 billion in Q2, representing a 276.98 per cent increase.

“Additionally, the amount lost also saw a substantial rise, increasing from N472 million in Q1 2023 to N5.79 billion in Q2 2023, which corresponds to an 1125.03 per cent increase. This increase might be attributed to the fact that banks were liable for the losses incurred and had to make refunds to customers.”

It further stated: “In Q2 2023, there was a 6.40 percent decrease in outsider involvement in fraud cases, with the number dropping from 12,351 cases in the previous quarter to 11,561 cases. However, staff involvement in fraud increased by 22.22 per cent, rising from 72 cases in Q1 2023 to 88 cases in Q2 2023. Conversely, the number of terminated appointments related to fraudulent activities decreased by 26.67 per cent, going from 15 cases in Q1 2023 to 11 cases in Q2 2023.”

Reacting, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance Institution, ASSBIFI, said it is a sad development for the nation’s banking industry, blaming the rising cases of staff involvement on casualisation of workers and other forms of non-pensionable employment practices in the financial sector.

‘ *Sad development* ’

President of ASSBIFI, Olusoji Oluwole, told Vanguard: “This is a sad development in the banking industry. We had warned of this problem when the employment of contract workers without due diligence through third party organizations began to increase. These classes of workers without a clear career path, job security or even pension have become potential risks which are already crystallizing.

“ASSBIFI, after about 10 years of struggle eventually got the document regulating casualization signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment. Unfortunately some organisations are yet to adopt this regulation and the sooner this happens the better as we believe this will reduce the cases of staff-related fraud in the industry.”

Corroborating, ASSIBIFI’s Senior Assistant Secretary General, Anthony Emeh, said: “It is obvious that banks did not carry out aggressive orientation and training of staff, ensure that casualization is discouraged and emphasis is placed more on employment of permanent staff.

Artificial Intelligence, AI, can also be adopted in some of their activities and the bank should ensure a strong internal control mechanism.

“The banks should also ensure that adequate remuneration of staff is put in place, encourage staff fraternity, interaction and also create minimal conflicts to track down impending frauds. The banks should overhaul staff, adopt a strong information technology system in all areas of banking activities, ensure strict reporting systems and ensure that fraudsters are prosecuted to serve as deterrents.”

*It’s capable of eroding confidence in banks* —Analysts

In his reaction, the Executive Vice Chairman, High Cap Depositors Securities Limited, David Adonri said: “The fraud is capable of eroding confidence in banks. The sources of the fraud need to be thoroughly investigated so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice. The scale of losses indicates that the affected banks have laxity in their risk management framework.

“The losses caused by the fraud will definitely erode the profit of banks and impair their balance sheets. If there were a contravention of regulations which caused the systemic failure that facilitated the fraud, the regulators need to apply sanctions.”

Also reacting, Tajudeen Olayinka, Chief Executive Officer, of Wyoming Capital and Partners said: “Fraud is very common in the financial services sector and has a far-reaching implication for shareholders capital. It could also damage the reputation of the affected institution if it becomes a recurring one, as it might cast doubt on its ability to survive a weakening balance sheet in the nearest future. Investors and customers might wish to avoid committing new resources to such an organisation.

“Regulators should improve supervision and direct affected institutions to put measures in place to safeguard the assets of the company.”


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