Serious ABSA Internet banking security concerns

ABSA mum on whether their employees or systems are to blame for fraudsters stealing thousands from their Internet banking customers

April 30, 2013
Absa mobile app

There is growing concern among ABSA clients that their money may not be safe at the bank amidst the spate of SIM swap fraud which is costing ABSA clients thousands.

Over the last few weeks there were numerous reports of large sums of money being lost due to SIM swap fraud – often linked to MTN and ABSA customers.

In the latest case fraudsters stole R360,000 from Media24 CEO Esmare Weideman, who is also an MTN and ABSA customer.

Weideman said that ABSA is a recurring theme in the SIM swap scam. “Every mail and call I got today about similar internet fraud experiences involved ABSA,” said Weideman.

According to a report in Die Burger an MTN employee said that a syndicate within MTN and ABSA are organising these crimes.

While the details about the scam remain sketchy, people who have fallen prey to these themes do not seem to have any joy in trying to recover the funds.

“My office was inundated today by callers who had same internet fraud experiences. Not one got their money back,” said Weideman.

Esmare Weideman

Esmare Weideman

We are not liable: MTN

MTN made it clear that they are not liable for money lost in SIM swap fraud.

“To commit a fraud on a customer’s bank account a fraudster must have a customer’s bank card/account number, Internet Banking PIN and password,” explained MTN’s chief customer experience officer Eddie Moyce.

“Our courts have already held that a SIM swap does not in itself enable a fraudster to commit fraud on a customer’s bank account.”

Eddie Moyce

Eddie Moyce

ABSA not providing details on SIM swap fraud

ABSA also does not seem to be taking any responsibility. Weideman said that ABSA is “hell bent to prove this was my fault”.

ABSA was asked about the spate of SIM swap fraud and whether security weaknesses within the bank may provide fraudsters with access to clients’ Internet banking, but they would not answer these questions.

ABSA was also asked whether they would advise clients to move their funds away from ABSA until the bank could establish the weaknesses which are behind the SIM swap fraud cases, but again they did not provide an answer.

Instead of answering questions on the bank’s security, ABSA provided the following answer:

ABSA was able to proactively identify suspicious activity on the customer’s account and immediately alerted the customer, froze the internet banking profile and prevented any further transactions, mitigating further loss.

ABSA has contacted the customer and will carry out a full forensic investigation. We can only comment on the specifics of this case upon receipt of the investigators findings.

ABSA strives to keep its customers’ money safe. We treat fraud that is committed on any of our customers’ accounts with high priority.

The lack of information from ABSA regarding the prevalence of SIM swap fraud at the bank is raising concerns among ABSA customers that their money is at risk of being stolen by SIM swap fraudsters.

It is currently uncertain whether phishing attacks are always needed to gain access to ABSA clients’ Internet banking details.

At least one ABSA client, Gail Peddie, who had R67,500 removed from her ABSA account, said that she definitely did not respond to any phishing e-mails or divulge her PIN codes or passwords.

It is also not certain whether SIM swaps may be done pro-actively to give fraudsters the ability to steal money from Internet banking accounts.

More detailed information from MTN and ABSA regarding SIM swap fraud may serve to calm their customers’ fears and assure them that their accounts are not at risk. That is, of course, if the security problems do not exist in ABSA and MTN itself.

More about SIM swap banking fraud

MTN, ABSA client loses R360,000 in SIM swap fraud

SIM swap banking scam: what you should know

How scammers hack your bank account

R97,000 SIM swap scam: MTN denies liability

Warning! SIM swap fraud on the rise

Tags: ABSA, fraud, Headline, MTN, SIM swap

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