Fraudulent transactions at Absa Bank during the weekend |12 October 2021
A number of customers of the Absa Seychelles bank were victims of a series of fraudulent and unauthorised transactions by online merchants over the recent weekend, whereby money were debited from their accounts without their permission.
During the day yesterday, Absa Seychelles confirmed that its fraud system was able to successfully intercept and stop an attempted BIN (bank identification number) scamming on a number of Absa debit cards.
The bank took steps to ensure all such transactions were declined and in some instances preemptively blocked selected individual cards, and has further notified all affected customers.
One client of the bank explained that she had to block her ATM card on Sunday and was reissued another card when she reported to the bank yesterday.
She stated that she started receiving text messages of suspicious point-of-sale (POS) transactions on Sunday, October 10 which she had not made.
Each transaction debited R36.95 off her bank account and there were about 45 such transactions, which would amount to a loss of around R1600.
“It was around 11am yesterday. I kept getting SMS that POS transactions were being processed on my account. I received the same message 45 or so times, one right after the other. At first I didn't know what to do. Then I called a friend whose mother works at Absa and she gave me a number to call. A nice lady from their Mauritius office assisted me. She asked me some questions to confirm my identity and she blocked the card.”
Another customer confirmed that similar transactions of R36.95 were made from her account and she saw around R1300 deducted in total.
According to one of the customers, Absa has reassured her that the money will be refunded during the course of this week.
“A transaction of R1480 was deducted from my account from a transaction called Matter. I’ve called Absa several times, but no answer. I went to the bank but the customer service line was from the bank itself till the Temooljee supermarket,” said another customer.
Another customer said: “Normally when an online transaction is being done Absa South Africa will always call and ask if you’ve done the transaction, but this time they did not. So I find it fishy.”
“I was unable to resolve the issue due to the long queue, but I’ll try again tomorrow (today),” said another customer Seychelles NATION spoke to.
“Our monitoring and detecting system alerted us to discrepancies on a number of debit card transactions and we took immediate steps to safeguard our customers’ accounts from any additional threat,” Absa stated in a press release following the incident.
“The bank identified 10 fraudulent online merchants from the United States and proactively set up a decline instruction on those transactions. The bank also blocked a number of debit cards as a pre-emptive measure. Over the course of the weekend a number of additional fraudulent merchants were also identified and were similarly managed.”
Absa Seychelles’ financial director and acting managing director, Akhtar Mamode, has reminded customers to only shop at online stores that offer Verified-by-Visa security verifications to minimise the risk to their information.
“We are asking all our customers and the public to continuously be on the look-out for suspicious activity and to take steps to immediately block their cards if they suspect their account or payment details have been compromised,” added Mr Mamode.
Absa Bank Seychelles has reiterated that the safety of its customers remains its top priority and steps are being taken to ensure that all unauthorised charges are refunded to the affected accounts.
Customers with blocked cards are invited to visit one of Absa’s branches for a free replacement.
Fraudulent online merchants are fictitious websites posing as other known legitimate businesses. Online shoppers are advised to look for the symbol identifying the website as digitally encrypted and secured (padlock icon in address bar).