By Damilola Adeyera, FIJ
Baruwa Oladayo Hassan’s world seems to be caving in after his account was debited the sum of N500,000 without his knowledge and approval.
On July 2, was en route to the GT Bank branch at Agbowo, Ibadan, to make some transactions when he received a text message with a One Time Password, OTP. A one-time password (OTP) is an automatically generated numeric or alphanumeric string of characters that authenticates the user for a single transaction or login session.
Since Baruwa was not expecting OTP for any transaction at that moment, he ignored the text. To his surprise, just two minutes later, he received a debit alert of N100 for a recharge card — a transaction he did not initiate. Few minutes after this, he got a debit alert of N499,900, which, again, he did not initiate.
“I was totally surprised when I saw unauthorized debit alerts on my phone. But fortunately, I was in the GTB premises when I saw alert. I quickly entered the banking hall to show the bank the debit alert I got on my phone,” he told FIJ.
Officials at the Agbowo branch of GTB explained to Baruwa the money was transferred to SportyPay. He was shocked to hear this, as he did not have or operate a SportyPay account. After leaving the bank, he sent a mail to GT Bank’s Fraud Team, providing them with details of how his account was ‘illegally’ debited.
In their reply to Baruwa’s mail, GT Bank’s Fraud Team said they contacted SportyPay and “requested that the disputed transactions be terminated”. However, they were “informed by the merchant that the transactions were successful, and service had already been rendered”.
The response given by GT Bank did not sit well with Baruwa, who wondered if the bank wants him to forgo N500,000.
“Is GTB trying to kill one of their customers through hypertension?” he answered.
“Is GTB telling me that N500,000 can’t be traced at all, even if there was a transaction ID that followed the unauthorized and fraudulent debit from my account? How am I sure that my account details was not compromised by the GTB? Because my Card is always with me and my phone did not get lost.”
Efforts to reach GT Bank have so far been unsuccessful, as the bank is yet to respond mails sent by FIJ.
Findings by FIJ showed that SportyPay, the merchant who carried out this transaction, has no officially recognised social media handle and website. Sportypay.ng redirects internet users to a porn website, while Sportypay.com and Sportypay.com.ng fail to open. Also, a search on Twitter revealed various testimonies of people whose accounts were debited by SportyPay.
Earlier in the week, a Twitter user, Olatomide_flame, recounted how his GT account was debited the same way as it happened to Baruwa.
“I was at the ATM yesterday and couldn’t use the machine, as it ejected my card twice without even getting to input my PIN. I didn’t make any transaction literally,” he said. “Few minutes later I got a message of OTP sent to me to complete a transaction I know nothing of then debit alert. Debit alert of 50k followed, which I know nothing of.”
Another victim of Sporty Bet fraud, Johnny James, said, “the latest pattern of defrauding innocent members of the public these days, is through Sportybet. I’ve gotten my own share of fraud through this platform. My 262k was transferred from my Zenith bank account to a Sportybet account, and from there, the monies were transferred to a Wema bank account, with account numbers, 7821809105.”Sporty bet company on their part succeeded in establishing the fact that they sent the monies to Wema bank account, via an application from the owner of the wallet. But Zenith bank up to this day is yet to tel me how my monies left my account, to a Sporty bet account, without my authorization.
“I did all I could to persuade the bank to act, but to no avail. I tried contacting the defunct SARS team, the monies they billed me was even higher than the monies the stole from my account. I tried contacting Fiseyo, there was no response. That was how I decided to forgo the issue. Majority of the Staff in that Sporty company, are thieves.”
Another victim, Kolawole, says, “I had a similar issue but am yet to be refunded even though I was never sent any otp because the perpetrators actually changed my otp receiving phone number and I was able to trace the dubious means and route my channel.First through an opay wallet and later through kuda microfinance with account number 2000344070 with account name Daren chuks.
“The bank has not refunded me anything, close to a year now. My name is orowole kolawole inumidun with account number-0131095691 GTB And something similar in my first bank-3036535139.
“Both bank was debited with similar style. Non of the bank have refunded me since November 26 and 27,2020.”
For Baruwa, this unauthorised transaction has caused him so much distress. He told FIJ the money in the account does not belong to him but students of the Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan.
“I was arrested by one of those who own the money. The money is meant for payment of school fees of Distance Learning students and its closing by 25th of this month. When I told one of them what was happening, the person did not believe. He thought I was lying so he got me arrested.”
GTB refunds Baruwa’s money
Speaking with FIJ on Sunday, Baruwa said he received a call from an official of GT Bank who identified himself as Damola. According Baruwa, after his call with Damola on Thursday, his money got refunded on Friday.