Polaris Bank In Big Mess

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Polaris Bank Plc. is in big trouble as its customers are now considering dumping it, following the alarming rate of fraud in the bank.
According to the 2020 Nigerian banking reports, Polaris Bank has emerged one of the top commercial banks in Nigeria that lost huge sums of money to various fraudulent practices.
Reports also has it that Polaris Bank has lost close to N900 million to fraud perpetrated by hackers and those allegedly committed by the employees.
According to the bank’s 2020 financial reports submitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NGX), the figure represents over 90 per cent of the N2 billion stolen by fraudsters from commercial banks in the country within the period under review.
Speaking on the situation, a forensic expert in Lagos, said;
“This is an indication that the bank is still very prone to electronic and other proximate frauds despite its claim of investing huge funds in fire walls that can prevent funds from being stolen easily from the bank.”
“What this tells us is that the bank has inadvertently opened its vaults to dangerous fraudsters and employees at the press of the button”.
It would be recalled that an employee of the bank reportdly stole N20 million from a customer’s account through wire transfer.
According to sources, the employee who doubles as the Account Officer of the customer had within one week, sliced the said amount from the customer’s account.
Sources squealed to us that trouble started after the customer who had been away from the country returned to the country and noticed the anomaly going on in his account.
Sources revealed that the money was moved within seven days from the customer’s account and splitted into different accounts allegedly belonging to the employee.
Sources said the worse of it all is that the management of the bank refused to act after the customer had made a formal complaint.
The bank on its part has been so embarrassed over the fraud that the management is still in shock and worried about a possible chain of reactions from other customers.
Meanwhile, there have been mixed reactions from customers of the bank and financial experts on the alarming rate of fraud in the bank.
A customer relationship expert, Folawari Divine, said;
“No customer would allow himself to be made a guinea pig. Of course, the fraud would trigger negative feedbacks from other depositors. The theft does portend well for the image of the bank, particularly the new management. Customers do not want to feel that their deposit is not safe.”
Also, the victim of the alleged fraud said;
“I travelled out of the country for three months and within this period I did not receive the usual email report about my account. So, I decided to take the bull by the horn.”
“I decided to come to Nigeria last week and found out my savings account had been tampered with by the staff of Polaris Bank, Computer Village branch, Ikeja, Lagos. Over N20 million was stolen from me.”
“For the three months, I realised I stopped receiving my monthly email alerts, which bothered me. On June 18, 2021, I received an alert of a debited sum of N50, so I called the customer service number immediately and the lady asked if I was familiar with the name Ismail Bello and I responded that it sounded familiar but I couldn’t remember. She said the person was my account officer, so I asked her what would my account officer want to do with N50?”
“She said he might do that to track my balance, so I asked how much is my balance at the moment and she told me the exact amount I was expecting to hear.”
“So I told her to please block my account and that no one is authorised to make any withdrawal except me and that it has to be me coming physically and she claimed she did it.”
“So arriving in Nigeria on Saturday, 17th of July at about 11:45am, I got to my branch where I opened the account and was told I didn’t have enough balance in my account.”
““At first, I thought it was a joke, so one of their staff members came to me and showed me a fake Nigerian passport that was used to create an online banking.”
“According to what one of their staff members showed to me, I could see they have a record. I called in on June 18 requesting that they should block my account.”
“I requested for a printout copy of the statements and I saw how my money was being transferred on a daily basis to different accounts.”
“What surprised me most is that the money was moved out of my account after I instructed that the account be blocked. They transferred the money after I had blocked the account, I think the so-called Ismail Bello removed the N50 intentionally to see if I would visit the bank. Maybe because he didn’t see me, he and others thought something bad had happened to me and stole my money”.
Another financial expert, Chris Adegbe said;
“There are many questions to be asked concerning this particular case. The customer had demanded that his account be blocked after he noticed that the same had been debited without making a withdrawal.”
“Did the bank actually block the account? It is very obvious they did not from the customer’s testimony. Two things will suffice here: it calls to account the functionality of the bank’s customers’ service whether it’s working or not. Another possibility is that a ring exist in the bank that cuts across various departments working together for a determined purpose.”
“Part of what the bank should be doing right now is to interrogate its system to determine whether it has been breached at a certain point. Who are the employees involved, and to what extent the involvement of the ‘sections’ that are supposed to play a role in blocking the account when infractions were noticed.”
“Another possibility is that the bank does not have the capacity to block any account as being claimed. What that means is that customers’ deposits are not safe in their accounts. Take for instance, that a customer’s account is tampered with, like this one, and he discovers hoping that the bank will block the account on his instruction. That customer may just find out that his account will be emptied by the time he eventually visits the bank to register a formal complaint.”
“The most important issue in all of this is that, If you can no longer trust your Account Officer, who is supposed to ensure that your account is not tampered with, who then can you trust?”

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