Access Bank lost N5.46bn to fraudsters in six months

FRAUD and forgery incidents incurred by Access Holdings Plc stood at N5.46 billion, the company’s interim consolidated and separate financial statements for June 30, 2023, have shown.

Findings by The ICIR revealed that the bank’s loss to fraudsters rose by 354.22 per cent, relative to N1.20 billion loss in the corresponding period of last year.

Analysis of the report showed that an N5.459 billion loss resulted from fraudulent transfers/withdrawals/reactivation of customers’ accounts compared to an N4.53 million loss from cash theft/suppression/pilferage/dry posting.

A summation of attempted fraud and forgeries was worth N6.44 billion in incidents as the bank narrowly foiled N975.89 million in unsuccessful attempts. 

At the same time, the frequency of the cracks and successful losses resulted in about 3,061 times. 

Access Holdings, one of the tier-one banks with the biggest asset of N20.85 trillion as of June 2023, stated, “This report represents the fraud and forgery incidents that occurred during the period. It is a summation of attempted and successful fraud incidents.

“The actual loss that was incurred by the bank for the period is N5.46 billion (June 2022: N1.2 billion). The rest of the loss amount represents the losses incurred by other third parties.”

Compared to the first half of 2022, Access Holdings lost N1.20 billion and recorded fraud cases worth N10.199 billion, of which 7,104 were successful while 3,602 were unsuccessful attempts.

The ICIR reports that the safety of customers’ funds in the banks is becoming a concern as the Central Bank craves financial inclusion and a cashless policy.

The Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC), an innovation-led and technology-driven organisation, in its latest data, ‘Reports on Frauds and Forgeries in Nigerian Banks,’ revealed a significant increase in the total amount involved in fraud cases during the second quarter (Q2) of this year compared to the previous quarter.

The data indicated that the total amount involved in fraud cases rose from N2.59 billion in Q1 2023 to N9.75 billion in Q2, representing a 276.98 per cent increase.

While there was a 6.40 per cent decrease in outsider involvement in fraud cases to 11,561 cases, banks’ staff involvement in fraud increased by 22.22 per cent, rising from 72 cases in Q1 to 88 cases in Q2.

Considering the rise in the total amount involved in fraud cases and the amount lost, FITC recommended that Nigerian banks strengthen their security protocols and systems to prevent unauthorised access to customers’ accounts and sensitive information.

“This may involve incorporating measures such as multi-factor authentication, implementing strong encryption techniques, and ensuring regular security updates are in place.

“Also ensuring that there is stability in the cybersecurity units while also equipping the unit members with relevant cybersecurity trainings that helps to mitigate, control and reduce fraud cases,” it advised.

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