Two Bulgarian nationals and a Kenyan have been arrested by Kenyan security officials in relation to ATM fraud that happened in Meru affecting several banks and their customers in Meru a week ago.
The most affected of these was Kenya Commercial Bank where its manager Simon Haloda said the matter is still under investigation and declined to reveal their names and where they are held to avoid impeding the investigations.
In what seems to be the new wave involving bank theft around the country has seen many Kenya Commercial Bank customers threatening to sue the bank after fraudsters got information concerning their ATM cards and made new ones which they used to withdraw funds from their accounts.
The matter is under investigations by police and the bank’s security department where the bank customers’ who lost the have tried their efforts to seek refund from the bank but have not been fruitful.
Kenneth Mwenda Gitobu a statement taker with Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Meru who holds an account number 1117620921 with the bank alleged that a withdrawal transaction that he had not authorized was made on November 12, 2011.
Mwenda says he reported the matter to the security officers in charge of the bank and when efforts failed to discuss the issue with the branch manager he requested for a mini statement and later reported the matter to the Meru Police Station.
“After requesting for the mini statement I confirmed the withdrawal and I immediately changed the ATMs pin number”, said Mwenda.
He added that when he visited the bank later to make his complains he found several people who had similar complains.
“The manager explained to us that fraudsters had inserted a gadget into the ATM slot which remained there and anyone who used his ATM on 23rd, 24th, and 25th the gadget tapped the details of the card and stored it”, said Mwenda.
The manager had also clarified that the fraudsters had used the information to make similar ATM cards which were used to withdraw money from their accounts.
They allege the bank has not been paying much attention to their complaints and weeks are passing yet they need to use the money in paying other people and catering for their bills.
Mwenda says out of the Sh. 45, 000 that was in the account sh. 34,000 is missing and allays fears that there are several other account holders who might have been victims of the fraud scheme but are not aware because they are not subscribed to the mobile service.
“When they realize it they will be shocked. I’m also stranded because since I reported the matter my account was blocked and I cant access my funds. We shall seek legal redress against the bank for the inconveniences we have been made to go through”, he adds.
Wilson Miungi a business man in Meru KCB bank holder of account number 11022766458 lost a sum of sh. 93,190 after a sequence of five withdrawals between November 12 and 14.
“The bank manager informed me that they can’t prevent such crime and was urging us to wait until the bank finalizes compensation plans through its insurance scheme. I have gone back there severally but the only thing he did is to authorize I be given a salary advance to sustain me for at least two days”, says Miungi.
Another victim of the fraud Timothy Murega a mechanic at Kinoro Tea Factory owner of account number 1102424609 said on the dates of 12 and 14 this month he received short messages through his mobile phone that he had withdrawn Sh. 50,000 from his account in different transactions.
However, the KCB Meru branch Manager Mr. Haloda said the culprits who were arrested had stayed in Meru for a long time before they committed the crime and then migrated to other towns in the country.
He said the three suspects were arrested in Changamwe and urged all bank customers to be cautious of any European or people of non African origin alleging that they are behind the introduction of the new fraud system.
“This thing is not new in the world and the whites are introducing it in Kenya. We shall undertake to educate our customers of their security when dealing with money because not every one is a genuine customer”, said Haloda.
He said the bank is compensating the affected customers on a merit basis and will deal with all the genuine cases before addressing others.