It happened to my neighbor, she lost over 400k in her account. I interviewed her to get all the details and to learn the possibility of such. She was at her bank ATM to make a transfer to another account. She tried a few times and the transaction didn’t go through. She withdrew her card and returned home. Late in the evening of the same day, she started getting a debit alert which I told her will be reversed. It was the weekend, so she waited till the next weekday to report to the bank. At the bank, she was shown on the system that the transactions actually occurred, that the 400k was actually withdrawn from her account. The bank tracked the location where the transaction happened. ATM was not used in withdrawing the money, rather it was via POS.

I put a call across to a Nigerian ATM installer and IT personnel I met in the US to enquire about the possibility of such. He affirmed that it is possible. That the bad guys have developed a master card for cloning any ATM card. All they need is the last 4 digits of one’s card or they insert the master card immediately when an innocent person finishes using the machine.

I mourned with my neighbor for she has lost a lot. Bit by bit, she started paying back the amount to the owner. In less than one month, the same thing happened to me. I’m usually a cashless person. Most of my transactions are cashless. I was to refund 10k to a bedridden client who doesn’t have access to the bank. One evening in April 2022, I went to the bank ATM to withdraw the money. On getting to the ATM, a guy was answering an unending call, the other rounding off his transaction at the ATM. As he left, I mounted and slot in my card, I withdrew 10k and walking out, I saw him chatting with the security guy and the other guy still on his unending call. I trekked a distance to buy some fruits, came back and drove back home. It was almost late evening.

The next morning, I started getting debit alerts. I rushed to search for my ATM card, maybe I misplaced it the previous day after usage. Lo and behold my card was with me. How come the debit alert? Within minutes, another debit alert came in. Then it dawned on me, my ATM card had been cloned.

I called my bank officer and asked him to block my card which he immediately did. I wept bitterly that the little I’ve been saving since February 2022 to invest in our upcoming project since I couldn't get a loan or support, the criminals have taken. It hurts me deeply. Few weeks later, I was at the bank for a transaction. I watched as bank customers troop in to complain of getting debit alerts they never initiated and others requesting for new ATM cards because the one they had was cloned. Ah! So this is now becoming a trend, I said to a bank officer who affirmed they get many of such reports on a daily basis. Let everyone be wary of this. You could be the next victim. And if it happens, it is your loss and not that of the bank. The bank shows no remorse and continues their business as usual. I am yet to get out of the shock of my loss and have refused to request for a new ATM.

© Udegboka Tessie Nkechi


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