A spate of occurrences at some of the country’s top commercial banks are proving that their information and computer technology systems are compromised; and, in turn, the financial systems are robbing unsuspecting Malawians of their hard-earned money in broad daylight, Nyasa Times can reveal.
A social commentator, Jackson Msiska, has described the recent development at the banks as an “alarming surge in ICT crimes which must be halted as soon as possible.”
Said Msiska: “First we were complaining about Mpamba and Airtel Money thieves. Now it seems the thieves have upped their game, and are enroute to robbing Malawians through the very same commercial banks they trusted in so much.”
Kitmass Ngoleka, a farmer from Lumbadzi is one such victim. From January 14, 2020, when he opened a bank account with First Capital Bank’s Lilongwe City Centre Branch, which he opted for after their numerous adverts on the radio, he made nine deposits from his farming business, and by December 4, 2020 his balance was K2, 021, 985. 34.
Ngoleka, according to his testimony, made further deposits at the beginning of January 2021 of K100 000 through his brother, Charles, and then deposited K500 000 through his sister, Edna.
But when he went to the bank to withdraw K600 000 so his sister could inject into her business, Ngoleka was told that his balance was K621, 500.61.
The teller told him that on December 5, 2020 he had made withdrawals through Airtel Money, totalling to K2 million.
Bank statements were printed out for him and, indeed, the money had been siphoned from his bank account using the Airtel Money numbers +265 995 727 359, +265 995 798 051, +265 997 476 978, +265 995 276 446.
One of the numbers, Nyasa Times checked, belongs to one Chimwemwe Kennedy, while another belongs to First Capital Bank.
Social activist, Onjezani Kenani, who has been helping Ngoleka in following up the issue through his widely followed Facebook, said: “We cannot allow you to steal from the poor. How was this theft possible without collusion with someone within the bank? With all those know-your-client procedures, how did FCB approve the linkage to all these numbers?”
After making a cash deposit, his money could not reflect in his account for ten days. He took his rants to Facebook, and in less than 20 minutes his funds were processed and accessible.
Following the developments, writer and social commentator, Shadreck Chikoti, said what the financial institutions were doing was totally unfair.
He said: “Banks are stealing from Malawians. We need a citizen action on this now!” Chikoti’s post has received massive support with most commenting that they have been hurt by the banks in one way or another.
And, Nicholas Msowoya, a former media trainer, said: “Institutions of higher learning offering ICT should step in and redesign academic programs, short courses for bankers and mobile operators, and also come up with cyber security products to address this digital theft in banks. It seems thieves are beating ICT professionals in the banks and mobile phone companies at their home ground.”
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