Nigerian entrepreneur and YALI fellow Idongesit Umoh today shared details of how her bank account got debited of N2.1m through some suspicious action on her online banking app.
She shared the story via her personal and business Instagram pages. She also lamented the nonchalant manner in which the bank officials treated her allegations.
I have been deliberating over the last few months if i should post this or not as it relates to my business. I didn’t want a case where when #IdongHarrie is searched on the internet and part of what comes up is information about fraud. However, it is high time i speak about this.
My name is Idongesit Umoh and i am a victim of an online bank fraud. One thing i have learnt over the years is that if i ever fall a victim of anything, i will NOT keep quiet out of fear. I will stand, shout and make my voice heard. I run a micro small business called Idong Harrie. We manufacture and retail handmade footwear and accessories using genuine leather and African fabrics for men, women and children. My business has won several recognition and awards by several multinationals and is playing it’s role in impacting the Nigerian economy and we ensure we also give back to our community.
A few months ago, I got shortlisted by the Mandela Washington Fellowship as one of the 101 outstanding young leaders in Nigeria to undergo a 6 weeks training in United States (all expenses paid). I decided to go to my bank (Diamond bank) to request for PTA for the trip. I had initially wanted to request for $400 but one of the teller guys suggested i do $3000 at once. After consideration, I decided to do just that because i had some transactions to do in China and needed to pay for and also buy some things for my factory while in the US.
I started the PTA process with the bank. On the 7th of June, i transferred N1.5m from one of our business bank account to our business Diamond Bank account for the PTA. The next day being the 8th of June, i wanted to refund a customer who had been debited twice while using our Diamond bank POS during the Lagos Leather Fair exhibition held the weekend before. I typed in my Diamond bank mobile app password and I got an error message saying the credentials you have put in is invalid. I tried it the 2nd time and it said the same thing. Immediately, i called the customer service number explaining to the woman who picked what was going on.
She then told me to re-activate my app. I did just that and the app requested to put my PIN. I typed in my PIN and it said it was invalid. I explained it to the customer service representative who was still on the call with me and she advised that I visited the bank. I told her that it was almost 4pm and couldn’t go but would go the next day since i still had some documents i needed to drop off at the branch so i ended the call.
Less than 5 mins after the call, i got a text message. When i checked, i saw a diamond bank message showing N100,000 transaction. I assumed it was a payment from a customer which i was expecting, i then instructed my workers to start work on the customer’s order because she had paid. A few seconds later, more texts came in and i saw they were from Diamond bank. I saw the texts were debit alerts and the names were strange. I said to myself that if diamond bank wanted to debit the money for the PTA, they won’t do it in trenches. Immediately, i realised that my account was hacked i called the customer service while i rushed to the bank. I got through to customer care and instructed them to block my account. I was at the bank when all the debit alerts of the money withdrawn was buzzing while i was screaming at the customer service lady that my money was gone and to block my account.
Unfortunately, they were too late. My account was cleared of approximately N2.1m within 30mins. Since June, I have been going back and forth with the bank over this issue. In July, they refunded N668,000 and closed the case. I was shocked at how unconcerned they were about my situation and so some of my friends and i went ranting on Twitter. Our tweets reached Mrs Salako and she reached out to me to help. It also reached a lawyer who also reached out to me and decided to help me get things done legally. He wrote to the bank, informing them that he would be representing me and the bank wrote him back informing my lawyer that i should seek the assistance of the appropriate law enforcement agency. They refused to take responsibility and so we had no choice than to sue the bank.
So here i am, barely starting business and already in court fighting with a bank. What i don’t understand is why the bank isn’t thoroughly investigating the issue. I don’t have an ATM card to that account, my cheque book was locked up safe and my token was with me. The monies were transferred to people’s bank accounts. I have all their names on my bank statement. What is then the essence of BVN? Why is my case so difficult to solve? I was at the bank when this incident happened, why wasn’t something done immediately? Till now, i don’t know how this happened to me. I didn’t click on any link like they claimed. I always go to the bank or call customer care if i have any issues. No one knew of the transaction i was making except me and the bank officials handling the process. How can i put money in the bank and the next day it is gone! What upsets me the most is that the bank is NOT at all bothered or sympathetic about my situation. I kept calling and calling until i got tried. Even while i was in the US, I would call the branch manager asking for information about their investigation and got no feedback.
I had a radio interview yesterday 20 October, 2017 concerning this issue with Mrs. Sola Salako on her online radio station. We also talked about one elderly woman’s case with the same Diamond bank. All her pension money of N585,000 was fraudulently withdrawn via mobile banking leaving her with N2.07. The woman uses an analogy phone so how on earth could she have done mobile banking as stated on her bank statement? The next day after this incident, her husband died. Now the woman is mourning the loss of her husband and her money and yet since March, the bank still hasn’t refunded her money. How heartless is that???
This incident has left me depressed, unmotivated and penniless. I go to bed crying and i wake up with a pounding headache of where and who i will borrow money from to pay off debts and keep the business afloat. I have my goods in China since June, no money to pay the balance and have them shipped down to me. I have a loan repayment which i pay back every month. I make sales or not, i must pay the loan. For the first time since i started business, i owed my staff their salaries. I task my brain daily on how to raise money. I thank God for the values i have and that as a beautiful single lady, there are things i will NEVER subject myself to. I smile on the outside but dying inside and only those close to me are aware of the pain. How do i survive all this??? Just about 3 weeks ago, i decided to wake up from my depression. I got myself back after the consistent advice and encouragement from my dear friends and few customers that were aware. I recalled I was at a forum held by EDC years back and Mrs Tope of Sixth Sense was on the panel. She told the story of how when her store burnt down and she had to start all over again. I decided to read ‘The Girl Entrepreneur’ by Mrs. Ibukun Awosika again to motivate myself. Reading about how most of the women we look up to today went through challenges in their businesses. How Mrs Ibukun fought when policies changed which affected her business but still rose ahead, how Mrs Tara felt seeing imitation of her products in China, her sweat of many years but is still going on, then who am i not to rise up from my depression and keep going on!
Even though i do not know where the next money will come from to pay salaries and other expenses to run my business and personal life, I know that i have a God and He is my Jehovah El-Shaddai. He is the one who fights my battles and delivers me from the claws of devil. After all, He is GOD!
My dear friends, please be very alert. I still don’t know what i did wrong to make this happen but just be cautious. There are a few tips on how to secure your accounts on this website www.cafon.org.ng please read them and share.
I thank you my friends who have stood by me, loaned me money, encouraged me, allowed me cry on your shoulders, wiped my tears and the mucus away from my noise. My God!!!!! I am so blessed to have friends like you all. My customers who constantly support me, thank you, thank you and thank you. I am sure you all who aren’t aware will be shocked to read this because the business still went on. We pretended like nothing happened. To my workers…you guys are my strength, my backbone. I pray this cup passes away from us and fast. We have many more years to build the leather industry in Nigeria.
I pray this or any other type of suffering doesn’t happen to you and your businesses in Jesus name. Amen.
Please if you have or know any means of helping, i am one out of many who has been affected by these fraudsters and the banks and policies in place do not help the victims. Honest people work and yet they come and eat where they haven’t sown. Spending our sweat on meaningless and wasteful items. I alone can’t do this. Somehow, these policies put in place need to be re-evaluated and to suit the victims. The banks are insured from things like this and i guess that’s probably why they dont care. The fruadters are not brought to book and so we the victims is left to bear the burden alone.#HelpIdongFightAgainstOppressingBank#JusticeAgainstDiamondBank#JusticeAgainstOnlineFraud#DiamondBank#OnlineScam#DiamondBankMobileApp
Photo Credit: Instagram – @idong____