North Cyprus News | Beware of Internet Banking Fraud


North Cyprus News – Beware of Internet Banking Fraud

I have always had a morbid fear of internet banking. Recently NCFP received a disturbing tale on how, when things do go wrong, they really do go wrong. Rather than use my own words I am taking the words of the victim of this internet scam, clearly operated by those who are far more computer literate than me. The words in inverted comas are those of the victim.

“We have an account with a bank located in the Catalkoy area. Back in August, despite following all the recommended security measures and having internet security software installed, we had our email account hacked into. Somebody, pretending to be ourselves, emailed the Bank and had 48,000TL transferred via two payments to Malaysia. There was continued correspondence between this third party and the bank, and there were numerous indicators that all was not right, not least of which was that the emails were obviously written by a non English person, they specifically said they would not be available on the telephone and nearly all the money in our account was diverted to Malaysia, a well known destination for fraudulent activity! Any of these on their own should have raised alarm bells, never mind when all put together. But not once did the bank question this and try to verify whether the requests were genuine or carry out any security checks.

The person who dealt with the emails is the person we had corresponded with over the past couple of years and she should have spotted something was amiss. Her response when questioned about the matter was that she deals with hundreds of emails! That, to us, is not an acceptable answer. The bank is responsible for safeguarding their clients’ money and they clearly failed to do that. Furthermore, they aren’t willing to make any reparation or make any apology. The only action they have taken to try and put this matter right is to contact the Malaysian bank in an attempt to recover our money. This has not met with any success and they have merely quoted the Swift banking laws to us.

The bank has never once instigated any contact with us since this incident. We have had a constant battle to get any sort of response from them, they seem to have simply swept the matter under the carpet and ignore our emails. Its incredible that the bank have not taken any responsibility for their lack of security or the fact they have carried out large overseas transactions following an instruction received via email.

Since this fraud took place the bank in question has ceased taking instructions via email and telephone. If this isn’t an admittance that their security systems weren’t sufficient I don’t know what is. Therefore, how can they deny that it was their lack of security that allowed our money to be syphoned off? That being the case, if the bank had any business morals or professional responsibility towards their clients they would reimburse us. It seems they do not! It should not be dependent upon whether or not the Malaysian bank agrees to return the money!

Coincidentally, their on-line banking website has also recently undergone a bit of a makeover. It all seems a little like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Unfortunately, we’re taking the brunt.

We have taken the matter to the financial regulator in TRNC, but all they seem able to do is advise us to take it to court. If they recognise its a matter for the court doesn’t this indicate there’s a case to be answered? Why should it be necessary to trail through the courts? The bank should be rectifying their own mistakes. We have no faith whatsoever in the court system in TRNC from past experience so feel we would be throwing good money after bad.”

Having read this very cautionary tale, I have to say I do not see how going public with such a terrible experience could be considered in contravention of the Bank Law 39/2001 as no name, as yet has been mentioned. Indeed as far as I am aware the Banking system in the TRNC is normally robust. I would suggest though that the size of the transaction, the inconsistent language and the destination of the money, should have rung alarm bells. I do know that internal transfers between TRNC banks are carefully monitored by Central Bank. If such care is taken internally, why not externally?

I am sure after due consideration, this Bank will do what all other International Banks do, carry the loss and reimburse the account holder. These things do happen, we know, but should the account holder carry the loss? I personally think not.

Pauline Ann Read

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