Wednesday February 21, 2024

President directs banks to refund lost amount to victims of online scams

President asks Banking Mohtasib to take up matter of banking frauds with State Bank of Pakistan

January 21, 2024
A representational image of a person using coding for data purposes. — AFP/File
A representational image of a person using coding for data purposes. — AFP/File

Rejecting the representations of two private banks, President Dr Arif Alvi Sunday directed them to pay the lost amount to the victims of online scams.

The president asked Banking Mohtasib to take up the matter of banking frauds with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to get the essential standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued, so that the proven fraudulent persons’ CNICs could be blacklisted, placed at the central negative list, besides ensuring that no banking facility could be extended to them by the banking industry.

He directed the banks to pay Rs1.9 million and Rs0.744 million respectively to their customers who fell victim to online banking fraud at the hands of fraudsters, President Secretariat Press Wing said in a statement.

As per the details, Qaiser Mehmood who was holding an account with a private bank received a call from a number resembling the bank’s helpline and the caller advised him to activate his disabled digital banking app.

Mehmood activated his app, after which Rs2 million were transferred from his account through multiple transactions. Similarly, Brigadier (retd) Muhammad Arif Shaikh received a call from fraudsters asking him for his banking credentials to remove some technical flaws from his account.

Later, an amount of Rs 994,000 was transferred from his account through 19 transactions. They had asked their respective banks to refund their money but to no avail. Feeling aggrieved, they separately approached the Banking Ombudsman to get relief.

The Ombudsman directed the banks to refund the lost amounts to the customers. The banks, then, separately filed representations against the Ombudsman’s decisions with the President.

The president held personal hearing of the cases, and having listened to the parties and going through the available record, decided the cases in the complainants’ favour.

He observed that the banks were found non-compliant with the SBP’s directives regarding the implementation of monitoring systems to detect fraudulent transactions. He said that multiple consecutive transactions were conducted but it did not raise alerts and allowed the money to pass through the system.

He noted that the banks also failed to establish the legitimacy of transactions in terms of Section 41 of the Payment System and Electronic Fund Transfers Act, 2007.

The president said that the banks failed to submit any proof of compliance with the directions of SBP despite being given ample opportunity and concluded that malpractice and maladministration stood established on the part of the banks and they were liable to make good the financial loss of the complainants.

President Alvi, therefore, rejected the representations of the private banks and directed them to pay Rs1,998,500 and Rs744,000 to the complainants.