Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is Your Money Safe In The Bank?

A friend of mine had an unfortunate run-in with a local Kenyan Bank some two years ago. After making an ATM withdrawal, she noticed that something was not right with the balance. Some Kshs.20,000/- was missing from her account. The withdrawal had been made like 2 weeks back and she was sure it was not her. She naturally went to complain inside the bank.

The teller she complained to, without even asking her any questions, immediately made her fill out ATM fraud forms. Sounding rather admonishing, he told her that the only way her money could have disappeared from her account was if someone else had access to her ATM card and PIN number. She explained to him that the only person who had access to her card was her husband and he couldn’t possibly withdraw money from her account without letting her know. From the way the conversation was going, the teller tried to lay the blame on her and her husband. He even cast doubt on trust levels between them by implying that that very husband might have withdrawn the money and was not being genuine. The guy was calling someone’s hubby a thief!

Anyway she filled the forms and was asked to wait for some time then go back and check. As soon as she went back to the office, she told the company account about it. He advised her to go back to the bank and request for her latest statement. To her shock she learnt from the statement that the missing money was not withdrawn via ATM. It was a cash withdrawal. And yet in over 4 years with that bank she had never made a cash withdrawal. That became a whole new ball game. She could even sense some panic in the teller. They apologized and said that it must have been a mis-posting. But still a cash withdrawal requires the national identity card and careful comparison of the client’s signature. Anyway, she decided to swallow that excuse, accept the apology and let the bank take care of it. And it did. In the space of half an hour her Kshs.20,000/- was back in her account.

All salaries for her office were channeled through that bank and she warned her colleagues to go and check their accounts. They rushed to ask for statements which the bank provides usually after six months. Anyone requiring one outside the six months is given at a fee. The results were shocking. Three more of her workmates had their funds missing. For two of them the money was withdrawn and then deposited back after a few days. All without their knowledge. A more unfortunate one had Kshs.15,000/- cash withdrawn from his account and not returned. This was no longer a mis-posting. There seemed to be a deliberate attempt by some employees at the bank to siphon client’s money. And in a very foolish way for that matter. Yet this was only one office. How many more clients spread all over the town had their money played around with?

My friend was lucky her case was sorted out immediately. But by the time her other colleagues filed their complaints, Central Bank of Kenya had already been notified and the cases had to go through the courts. For the two whose money was stolen and returned however, the case ended fast. For the one who had Kshs.15,000/- still missing, things were not so easy. He had to go to court and testify, then wait for judgment. Only then would he be given his money back. The accused in was one employee of the bank and one customer. It seems the two used to work in cahoots so the bank guy would transfer funds to the customer’s account, the customer would withdraw and they would share the loot.

As I write this the guy has never received his money back. He’s still waiting for judgment. The bank however within a very short time of this saga fired a lot of it’s employees including the manager. Others were transferred to other branches in the country. So obviously the game was bigger than the one employee who had to go to court as the accused. These days there’s only 2 old faces in the bank. All the rest are new.

This case leaves me wondering, how safe is our money? This is no small roadside bank by the way. It’s a big bank with branches countrywide. Second since it was obvious the money was withdrawn irregularly, shouldn’t the bank have paid first to reduce inconvenience to the client and then followed the case later?

And how safe is your cash in the bank?

See also: Raila Embarks on ‘Big Man’ Journey.

14 Comments:

neema divine said...

that's very worrying and interesting but i have to say my cash in barclays bank UK is over~safe, can u imagine last month they put some money for me that wasnt mine, a free £1000, lord help my ass coz i had already started spending £200 of it!!!
they sent me a letter and had to pay it back to the bank, bastards!!!

KK said...

LOL @ Neema... You actually spent the money?

Shiko.... that is worrying indeed.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Neema Lol. Lesson number 1. If the bank puts any money by mistake in your account, they'll come for it. They always discover. Even just 500 Kenyan bob! I'd comfortably call then bastards also Lol.

So they want all the 200 at once or will they allow you to pay at your pace? I doubt. Or will they?

KK Neema is gutsy sio? Lol.

Acolyte said...

I had a friend who had some cash disappear from her account from a big Kenyan bank.
I dont bank in Kenya but it seems that Kenyans need to keep a keen eye on their statements and what their bank does with their money. This is a common thing in nigeria, shame it's come to this in Kenya.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

acolyte and the way most people grew up knowing banks as these revered places that know no evil. Things are changing so fast. It seems its not just politics and government that is rotten.

Sayra said...

Shiko,

Things in kenya have really changed, and am sorry to say this, am one of those who think that its laughable for one to think that corruption will end in kenya or anywhere else for that matter. We are slowly gratuating to high class kind of corruption ... and the traditinal way of TKK is becoming old skull and old fashioned.

For the case that you have given us it very worrying for a typical kenyan who lets others take care of them. Do the few that have access to the banking services honestly take a good look at their statements? I for one go through my statement like am been paid a million dollars to scrutinize it.

Its not only the political leaders and pple in government offices that are corrupt ... but from what i have been seeing around in my attempts to get rich leaves me shocked at every turn. Anyone given the opportunity to steal will gladly do so without flinching.

Maua said...

Neema, I get £1000 in my a/c and then give it back, the Kikuyu in me will tell them where to go. They have no right to get ibto my a/c without my permission.

Ciko, thanx for sharing this, on my next visit to Anniversary Towers I'll check how much's gone.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Maua kwanza those accounts that are dormant are the best for wayward bankers. So if you dumped some money in some bank at Anniversary Towers and there's no activity in that account Lol.

Sayra I hardly ever scrutinize my statements. But after my friend told me this story I intend to do it your style. Sayra those attempts to get rich. Si you share then with us we join you ama?

BP ONE said...

“How safe is your cash in the bank?”
Shiko. As long as there is computer error to blame, I know for sure, my cash is not safe in the bank. I have proofed that 5 years ago, The teller (a lady)of the local branch of our bank, had a habit of stamping the cash deposit slips correctly but keeps forgetting to feed the a mount deposited to the computer system. Funny the lady could just remember about the transaction when I just miss it from my monthly statement and start complaining to the branch manager .I came to realize many other customers had the same complain. The lady had the tendency of either getting a way with the cash if the customer does not scrutinize his/her statement or paying her self a free monthly loan, No interest charged. Believe me the branch manager was not innocent either.
By the way I am hearing similar complains reported with our local power and lighting company. Where by your monthly payments is settled with some one else’s account number ...I think they call that one also computer error...all the same I call it “white collar thieving”. Otherwise why do they wait untill the customer complains. Shiko take note of that and cross check the details in the payment slips before they disconect the power from your house.
Neema @5.57; Please, our sister , just be honest, we very well know nobody gives out free cash nowadays...it could have been honor for you to report the matter to the bank manager before you were suspected to be a thief. Who knows whoever deposited the cash in you account wanted to prove that all Africans are habitual thieves and you just proofed him right.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

BP thanks for the tip on Kenya Power & Lighting. I'll check my bills. These days it seems anything can be blamed on computer errors.

And speaking of Kenya Power, is it just by bill that has really shot up? By almost a whole Kshs.1,000/- bob!

BP ONE said...

Shiko...nope, not only you, every body is complaining about the bills...I think the company is doing some harambee for the coalition government.

Prousette said...

This is surely scary if there are thieves right within the banks.
I religiously scrutinize my bank statements and get mini-statements from the ATM.

Which bank might this be ebu toboa.?

neema divine said...

@wanjiku...they allow me to pay in whatever amount i want as long as its within the next month.
eish...free money, i had to spen a little...i gave them the same argument, why did they put money in my account when i didnt ask for it.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Prousette I called my friend to ask whether to disclose the bank and she freaked out coz the case is still in court. Lol. Maybe there's a 0.000001 percent chance that some judge will read this blog and terminate the case or something. But we shall know in good time. Keep it here.