Eight deposit money banks in Nigeria lost a total of N1.9bn as a result of fraudulent incidents last year, data collated from their annual reports have shown.
They are Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank, Wema Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Plc and Sterling Bank Plc.
Polaris and Zenith incurred the biggest losses as a result of fraud within the review period, as they lost N938.4m and N360m respectively.
According to its annual report, Polaris recorded a total of 134 cases of fraud in 2020 which comprise seven fraud categories, namely Automated Teller Machine fraud (43 cases), Internet bank fraud (three cases), mobile fraud (46), impersonation fraud (three cases), cheque theft (one case), outright theft (25 cases) and general fraud incidents (113).
The report also revealed that ATM, Internet bank, mobile and impersonation fraud cases cost the bank N830.1m, N37.7m, N16.2m and N989,700 respectively.
It said cheque theft led to a loss of N1m, while outright theft and general fraud incidents resulted N21.8m and N30.4m losses respectively.
Zenith’s fraud losses grew by N92m from N268m recorded in 2019 to N360m in 2020.
The number of fraud cases recorded by GTB grew from 15,461 in 2019 to 17,310 last year, while the cost of the fraud cases rose to N174.4m from N107.4m recorded in 2019.
Access Bank lost a total of N138.1m in 2020, which is N197.1m lower than what it incurred in the previous year. However, the bank’s fraud incidents rose from 5,836 cases in 2019 to 11,784 last year.
Sterling, Wema and Fidelity recorded fraud losses of N132.23m, N105.4m and N22.2m, respectively.
Further analysis of the reports revealed that Sterling Bank’s total fraud loss grew from N109.5m in 2019 to N132.23, while losses incurred by Fidelity Bank fell by N315.3m in the period under review.
Wema recorded 1,201 fraud cases, which led to a loss of N105.4m, consisting of Internet fraud (N93.9m) and operational and other types of fraud (N11.4m).
Union Bank lost N1.5m to fraud in 2020, which was N400,000 lower than what it recorded in the previous year.
The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc had in February 2021 released the second edition of its ‘Fraud in the Nigerian financial services’ report, which revealed that in the first nine months of 2020, financial institutions lost N5bn to fraudulent activities.
NIBSS said in Nigeria’s banking sector, N203.4m was lost in 984 fraud attempts, while 3,163 attempts that could have resulted to a N380.2m loss were repelled.
According to the report, there is a need for financial institutions to offer increased artificial protection for customers’ investment.
Experts, in separate interviews with our correspondent, advised banks to adopt sophisticated cybersecurity measures to mitigate current cyber threats and intensify their efforts in educating customers on ways to avoid falling prey to fraudulent actors.
An ICT expert and Senior Partner at e86 Limited, OluGbenga Odeyemi, said, “I think there is a gap on the education of customers on what to do and what not to do. Times are hard, and those into crimes are inventing new ways to move forward.
“So, banks, especially the central bank, need to be steps ahead of those in financial crimes. They should think ahead and come up with certain measures that would mitigate cyber fraud and attacks, and ensure that their customers are well educated on how not to become preys.”
He also emphasised the need for banks to hire qualified cyber security personnel to monitor their ICT space.
A financial expert and Senior Lecturer at Pan-Atlantic University, Dr Olalekan Aworinde, urged banks to increase their investments in cybersecurity and strengthen their internal control to curb fraud in the financial sector.