Customer Sues First Bank To Court Over Mastercard Fraud

An aggrieved customer of the First Bank of Nigeria, Abolade Bode who resides in Nigeria, but whose account was alleged to have been fraudulently manipulated to shop in London and bought air tickets in Budapest, Hungary, in a bid to seek redress has renewed his legal battle against the bank.

Joined as the co-defendant is Mastercard West Africa Limited

In an amended statement of claim filed on his behalf by a Lagos Lawyer, Barrister Ganiyu Bello the customer averred that he maintains a current account with the First Bank of Nigeria and he has been operating the bank account since 2006,he runs the account directly by cheques and with the master card procured from the bank after due payment which he uses electronically through Automated Teller Machine ATM. Master Card west Africa limited produced master card bearing MASTERCARD Trade Mark.

The MasterCard west Africa limited’s MasterCard is internationally acceptable and acknowledged and therefore projected to have high technology protection of its user hence the plaintiff confidence in using the Master card.

However, Mr. Abolade averred further that on 17th August 2012 he discovered that his account with the First bank was fraudulently debited with the sum of N750,509.77.arising from unknown and unauthorized transactions,

He promptly complains via voice and then by e-mail, his complaint was acknowledged, thereafter he physically visited the head office of the bank at Marina Lagos Lagos state on several occasions and in response, he was told that the matter was under investigation.

In its letter dated 5th of September, 2012 the bank denied any liability, Consequently, the Plaintiff on 6th September, 2012, wrote a letter to Central Bank of Nigeria on the same issue, in its response the Central Bank in an e-mail dated 27th of September, 2012 directed the First bank to review his complaint and respond within 72hours and its solution on the matter should be made known to the Apex bank.

Whilst waiting for the response of the First Bank, the plaintiff made formal complaint to Mastercard west Africa by email on 10th of September 2012 and in response, MasterCard advised the plaintiff to apply for the payment of provisional credit to his account within 60days, in accordance with the advice he forwarded to the bank by email dated 11th September 2012, a request for provisional credit to be placed on his account, but the bank did not respond to the request.

Pursuant to the directives of Central Bank of Nigeria, First bank by e-mail dated 27th of September, 2012 made available to the Central Bank of Nigeria via email a copy of which was sent to him, the details of the unauthorized transactions on his account runs thus, namely :

(a) Online transaction receipt for 3 internet purchases of auto parts made by Mr. Manuel Caser of 22 Greengate street London and third from Digital.

(b) Two Air Tickets purchased on Wizz Air in Budapest showing Passengers’ names Gamote Iordam and Alina Claudia Duma respectively.

The Plaintiff averred that he does not know any of these persons neither did he authorized the transactions, the bank neglected to demand from the merchants Turner Shop and Wizz Air or their banks the sum of N750509.77 arising from the unlawful transactions on his account within 60days of occurrence as per the charge process and as adviced by MasterCard.

The Plaintiff averred that there was never a time the details of his Master Card which is always in his possession disclosed to anyone, and in the circumstances of this matter, the First bank is liable for the online fraud committed on his account because it arose from card skimming and or counterfeiting.

The Plaintiff contended that the online Fraud committed on his account was not due to his negligence but has been perpetrated by means of other compromises of the defendants’ security because the information required for online transaction is open and accessible only to the staff of the First bank who handed and passed the MasterCard to him at the inception and the staff of MASTERCARD who had the custody of the card before issuance.

The Plaintiff averred that the loss of his N750,509.77 from his account has put him under serious financial strains and stress much so that he could not carry out important projects already lined up for execution.

Mr. Abolade also averred that his account which has been debt frozen since August 2012, in order to avoid further complications has constrained him access to his funds in the account and therefore cannot transact any other businesses in the cashless environment of Lagos state.

The bank in spite of several demands has failed to reimburse him.

In consequence of the foregoing, the Plaintiff claims from the defendants jointly and severally for the reimbursement of N750,509.77 and N10million damages respectively plus interest at the rate of 21% per annum with effect from 17th of August, 2012 until entire sum is fully paid.

However, in its amended statement of defence filed by Novolex solicitors, First bank while describing the Plaintiff ‘s suit as speculative, vexatious and abuse of judicial process urged the court to dismiss same with substantial cost, on the ground that the reported transactions in this instance showed that the Plaintiff card was used to order Auto parts in the United Kingdom and to pay for Airline Tickets.

These transactions could not have been possible without at least the initiator or enabler knowing the number and other details, thus buttressing the fact that the Plaintiff must have compromised his security information.

The first bank also stated that as a precautionary measure to prevent further dissipation of the funds therein and to enable the bank to carry out a full investigation into the complained withdrawals, another account was opened for the Plaintiff to enable him to continue with his normal banking transactions.

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