THE National Commercial Bank (NCB) says it has seen a “significant increase” in fraud over the last few days and is warning customers to be more alert to prevent themselves falling victims to fraudsters.
Dane Nicholson, manager for special investigations, fraud prevention unit, National Commercial Bank, told the Jamaica Observer that the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of customers falling victims to smishing and phishing attacks.
“We have seen in excess of $17 million in losses in a little bit over a week due to these activities,” Nicholson said. The sums were scammed over 10 days. It works out at the bank losing an average of $1.7 million from the activities over the period. Nicholson said the figure is higher adding that the problem has been around for some time, but the uptick in recent days in that type of fraud has been significant.
“What these fraudsters do is to send customers text messages purported to be coming from NCB and they ask [the customer] to click on a link to regain access to their accounts because their accounts are closed or restricted due to suspicious activity, their password is about to expire, or something of the sort, and they need to take action now. So there is always a sense of urgency in those smishing and phishing attacks. [With them] once you click on a link, you will be taken to a page which looks similar to NCB, and it [will] ask the customer to enter their username and password and then most times, after they do as instructed and click continue, the page times out and the customer gets an error message. Sometimes it will go to another page which asks the customer for their credit card information - the full 16 digits - the expiry date and then the CVV, and after you click that, you get an error message.”
Nicholson said the fraudsters use this method to gain sufficient information about the customer’s account. The stranded customer is then called by the fraudster, who pretends to be an employee at the bank. “I have seen many cases where they call customers [pretending to be an employee of the bank] and they are calling to verify some suspicious activities on the account and in order to stop [the suspicious activity], the customer needs to present the person on the phone with their token codes. Now once the fraudster gets their RSA token code, they are able to add beneficiaries to the account, and then transfer out the funds fraudulently to those accounts,” the NCB fraud prevention manager explained.
“I want the customer to know that NCB has a no click, no link policy. So once you receive an email — which is a phishing attack — or an SMS message — which is a smishing attack — asking you to click on any link to take certain actions as it relates to restricting your account or regaining access to your account because of suspicious activity, do not click on these links. And if anyone calls you purporting to be from NCB asking for your username, password, RSA token code, do not provide those information. We do not need any of that information to stop any fraud. So once you receive a message asking you to click on a link, we are asking customers to stop and think, it’s a fraud. Do not click on that link.”
However, smishing and phishing fraud are not the only fraudulent situations the bank is dealing with at the moment.
“Generally, the fraud landscape since COVID, we have seen increases in different activities. So, for example, we have seen a significant increase in loader scam where fraudsters create fake TikTok, or Instagram or Facebook accounts and tell customers that they can load their accounts in NCB. They tell them that they have a link in the bank who can provide them with funds and erase the audit trail. And they ask the customer to provide the username, password, RSA token code, debit card number, TRN, etc. All these fraudsters are doing is taking advantage of the fast cash facility and then what they will do is to give the customer a cut of the funds that were scammed and then tell the customer to go to the bank to report the card lost or stolen or their phone was stolen and a loan was taken out on their account and they know nothing about it. So definitely, we have seen an increase in those two activities over the last couple of months.”
Nicholson said the “loader scam” is done in collusion with an employee of the bank. When caught, they are dealt with by the bank. Customers who participate in the activity are also being warned.
“Customers who participate in that activity are definitely colluding with fraudsters in an attempt to defraud the bank. All of our investigations so far have led us to collusion, so all of those customers will have to repay those loans. So we just want the customer to know that we know the Jamaican mentality about ‘eat a food’ and everybody having a link somewhere. However, these fraudsters have no link in NCB. All they are doing is just taking out a loan on the customer account.”
He said the matter “has been reported to the Fraud Squad and the case file is now being prepared to charge a lot of customers for conspiracy to defraud”.