A businessman has been scammed of R24 000 after he answered to an Absa Bank phishing email that seemed so authentic it appeared to submit to Internet banking problems he had reported to his bank.
Doug Baker, 75, questions whether the scam was an inside job, and accuses the bank of not sufficiently protecting his bank account.
Baker, who lives in Durban, lost R23 812 from his business account in just a few minutes after he respond to an Absa email addressing the problems he had been experiencing with his Internet banking.
Baker had made numerous unsuccessful attempts to log on to his Internet banking.
The email, got on February 16, read: "Protecting the privacy of your Internet banking access and of the Absa banking network is our primary apprehension. We observed some invalid login attempts into your Absa online bank account; therefore we have momentarily limited access to some aware Internet banking features. Please follow the link below and we will validate and restore your Internet banking access immediately."
Thinking the "invalid login attempts" referred to his troubles logging in to his Internet banking, Baker replied to the email, sending the receiver his personal banking information, including his pin code.
It was only after the scam was exposed that Baker noticed the email address was not an Absa address.
Starting at 7am that day, Baker's money was taken in eight transactions, the first three in amounts of R1 000, then a R12 Vodacom prepaid top-up, and the last four in amounts of R5 200 each. He was called by a bank official at 8.30am and told of the scam.
"The money was taken out as cash send. Usually any transfer of funds only goes through at 7pm, thus giving the account holder time to stop the payment if it is not authentic. However, the cash send facility makes any transferred amount instantly available. He asked Absa why they do not protect this option with a password or SMS," he said.
Absa did not specify whether they would be refunding Baker's lost money, saying he replied to a phishing email and compromised his personal details.
"The scammers then did three cash send transactions, one Vodacom prepaid and four urgent payments to FNB accounts," said Absa spokesman Patrick Wadula.
"The fraud was identified by Absa monitoring and the client was advised about the fraud and FNB was advised to block the accounts at FNB.
"Presently we do not have the blocked amounts held at FNB. We are still busy with this via the inter-bank liaison department."