ONYEKORMAKA ASABOR reveals how fraudsters allegedly take victim of bank customers that use the POS machines, urging caution on the part of ATM card owners
No single occurrence in modern history has had a weighty bearing on consumers as the Coronavirus Disease. In fact, not only has banking services moved from banking halls to online platforms with specific reference to Point Of Sale, but emerging consumer issues that were, hitherto, taken for granted have also been brought into the spotlight, thus reinforcing the call, more than ever, for consumers to be protected from the criminals on the prowl.
POS to the rescue
Even bank customers, who were avoiding online transactions, due to inherent risks, are, somehow, holed in, following the mandatory observation of COVID-19 safety protocols in banking halls. POS outlets that mushroom on roadsides by the day come handy.
As many businesses and individuals contend with the bitter pill forced down their throats by the pandemic, fraudsters, as expected, search for loopholes to exploit.
Since COVID-19 necessitated the restriction of huge gathering of customers in banking halls, not few Nigerians are ignoring the consequences of patronising POS shops that are now reportedly riskier than ever.
Malachy Igwebueze, a Lagos-based outdoor salesman, who once had nothing to do with e-banking products and services, has embraced, roadside POS services. According to him, e-banking services expose one to excessive bank charges and cyber criminals. But his views on Internet banking and other e-payment channels changed since the pandemic compelled all commercial banks in the country to discretionally determine the number of customers to be admitted into the banking hall.
Case in point
Cases abound on how unscrupulous Nigerians have been leveraging the increase in the usage of POS to defraud unsuspecting consumers. For instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission recently arraigned four suspects for fraud involving over N900m in POS transactions.
Spokesman to EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said Naankang Dawan was arraigned along with Moruf Olukanmi, Taen Nigeria Limited and Lataen Engineering Limited at the Federal High Court sitting in Jos, Plateau State, on 31 counts of conspiracy, money laundering and obtaining N908,108,974.52 by false pretence. He added that Mr Dawan, who inherited some companies, including a petrol station from his family, connived with some staff members of First Bank of Nigeria Plc, including Mr Olukanmi (fourth defendant), to defraud customers using a POS terminal allocated to him.
Edwin Edegbe, in his contribution to the issue, noted, “Now that criminals have exhausted the usual strategies as maliciously demonstrated in the opportunities presented in the pandemic relief efforts, they have now turned to their old ways. Unsurprisingly, their target is the POS, which has been booming due to restrictions on the number of consumers allowed into banking halls physically, and a general preference for making withdrawals and deposits at POS bricks-and-mortar shops.”
The modus operandi
A recent report revealed how some POS operators, and even those who pretend to be customers waiting to be attended to, criminally obtain the Automated Teller Machine card details. Already, some people are falling prey. The fraudsters reportedly use the card details to gain unlimited access to to victims’ accounts and begin to withdraw cash, order products online and buy phone recharge cards, among other transactions.
Another source disclosed that some POS machines, deployed by scammers, could store customers’ information, even after transactions had been carried out and the card removed. According to the unanimous source, though not all POS operators have this criminal tendency to defraud, customers using POS for transaction are advised to patronise operators they know and can trust.
More disturbing about this scam is that most people, who are oblivious of the scammers’ tricks, blame and disturb their banks.
Security of POS in doubt
It has been reported that POS operators usually have a way of hacking into their victims’ accounts without the banks’ permission.
The Managing Director of Global Accelerex, Tunde Ogungbade, said people need to be more vigilant now than before because of the dynamics of technology.
His words, “As people come up with innovations, some others are bent on frustrating the benefits of such innovations.
“POS is very useful to us, but people need to be more vigilant these days because of the desperation of others to make it quick. Protection of personal sensitive information, especially bank details, should not be compromised.”
Similarly, the Chief Executive Officer, Itex Integrated Services, Ernest Uduje, stressed the need for Nigerians to be more careful with their ATM cards and other sensitive items.
“There is nothing much that can be done to prevent the scammers from hacking into people’s account than for customers to be careful with their information. The Central Bank of Nigeria has issued guidelines, which can help prevent bank customers from scammers. Unfortunately, not many people are observing these guidelines, including the protection of Personal Identification Number by not saving it where people can easily access, especially on the phone.”
On his part, Head, Switching and PTSP, Xpress Payment Solution Limited, Alafiatayo Salu, described the POS machines as quite secure, but that people got defrauded if their ATM cards and bank details were compromised.
“I think the main reason people are being scammed is because of ignorance. There is need for more enlightenment on how bank customers can protect themselves from being scammed. Many victims of the fraudsters exposed their bank details and information to those who should not have access to them. Until there is adequate awareness on how to keep these sensitive information, the cases of financial scam through POS or any other channel will continue to rise,” Salu stated.
POS transaction in Nigeria
In Nigeria, POS transactions hit N3.20tn in 2019 with an increased value from N1.14tn between January and May same year to N1.64tn within the same period in 2020.
According to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc report, it implies that the total value of transactions from POS machines rose by N500bn, which represents 43.8 per cent increase in five months. The total volume of POS transactions also increased from 152.6 million to 228.86 million within the period under review.
An Information Technology expert, Ndu Echefu, has stressed the need for the CBN, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria to put heads together and devise a way of nipping the retrogressive development in the financial sector in the bud.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.