Equity bank just celebrated it’s 35years of its existence and as a market leader in transformation and regional expansion. The three and half decades have not been a smooth run in the park even as the bank aims at creating sustainable growth path and service delivery where it is planning to present itself as a unified brand, ranging from banking to insurance and investment.
One big challenge equity now faces is banking fraud majorly through equitel.
Over the past few months, cases of fraud from the seemingly fast growing lender have been on the rise with little or no action at all taken against the perpetrators making one to wonder if the management are involved, or rather are working in cahoots with these criminals to rob clients their hard earned money.
Mass Exodus that began couple of weeks ago may not solve the rot in the bank as millions have allegedly been siphoned from clients accounts through dubious ways.
Safaricom vs equitel
Most of the theft at Equity bank are done through equitel SIM card something that Safaricom hard warned about five years down the line. Safaricom in September 2014 told communication authority of Kenya that users of Equity’s thin SIM will not be safe but they were ignored.
“If any adverse impact… is detected on account of the use of the overlay SIM technology, Safaricom will use all prudent and practical means to protect the confidentiality of its customers’ information and… financial transactions.” their statement read in part.
This has come to pass. Here are some of the cases of fraud at:
July this year, a client of Equity bank, Lavington branch went to withdraw ksh1 million from a Mr Gitonga, the operations manager, at the Lavington branch. The monies were to be in new currency of ksh 1000 notes. He was told that at the moment, the branch was not having the said amount in the new currency. He was advised on the date to visit the bank again which he did. On the said date, he went and withdrew the money from Manager’s office. He then left the bank around noon in his car little did he know arrangements had been made with criminals that a client was visiting the branch to withdraw Ksh. 1 Million.
The client was carefully followed from the bank to where he was going to meet a friend at a restaurant in Kilimani area, all this time he wasn’t aware criminals were trailing him.
“The thieves were hanging around monitoring my movements. Eventually, they broke the driver’s window and made away with all the 1m shillings. I was so devastated.” He said.
He requested the restaurant to play the CCTV footages and it was evident that he was being followed all the way from the Equity Bank Lavington Branch.
He then reported the case to Kilimani Police Station. The police reportedly established that it was an inside job considering the fact that vehicles registration numbers as evidenced from the CCTV footages were fake.
The police are still investigating but they’re of the opinion it will take a while since it was crafted within the Equity Bank.
Faith Wanjiku, 73, lost Ksh2 million from her Equity bank account. She opened her equity bank account on May 31, 2019 after selling a piece of land and deposited all her monies there. Her intention at the time she was opening the bank account was to keep her money as she look for alternative land where she could build a home.
Two months later (July 16, 2019), a total of Ksh970,216 was illegally siphoned from her account in four series of transactions using equitel. The monies were first transferred to Equity Accounts before they were withdrawn in series of Shs.70,000 using equitel lines.
Ksh300,030 was sent to Vivian Jelagat Kips, Ksh300,030 transfered to Anthony Babu Kaira, Ksh300,030 to Kelvin Maina Mwaniki and Ksh70,000 to various equity numbers.
All the withdrawals had no notification directed to her. She has no smartphone, not registered with any Easy pay App and has never lost her ATM card.
She later realized this fraud. Informed the bank and asked to wait for investigations to be completed. After a month, Equity bank managed a report which they never shared with her. She was then told that because her sister assisted her to withdraw money from an ATM, they could not assist her, since she compromised her PIN.
It has since been established that the sister that the bank shifted blame to was not the suspect, did not open the Eazzy App and the theft was not as a result of the PIN.
Four people have since been arrested after a lot of pressure was placed online. The fourth person is believed by detectives as the mastermind behind stealing money from Equity Accounts.
Last month you all remember how armed robbers escaped with equity eank cash in Moyale Airstrip shortly after landing. They are yet to be found.
A painful, unfair and heartbreaking story of Lydia Wanae, 80, who joined Equity, formerly known as Equity Building Society surprised many. Her branch was Karatina
Lydia bought a piece of land through the bank at Githurai Kimbo in early 90s.
Later got a plot number and the whole land was to be subdivided, hers was an 1/8 of an acre. After she finished paying for the land, she never got the Land nor the Title deed.
In 2004 she went to bank and got a loan from them using that land as security.
The bank accepted it as a security. She repaid back the loan but still never got any title deed or possession of her land.
All she has had in her possession is copies of documents and receipts. She has been paying landrates too.
So far no compensation, she has since closed her account with Equity bank because of frustrations she has been subjected to.
In September a twitter tag #TokaEquity was run and over 200 cases of fraud at the equity bank was shared. Most of them were monies stolen from various equity bank accounts of their clients and were attributed to inside job.
Who benefits from all these fraud cases?
In every institution, banking included, image is everything. There is someone is hired to directly look into the matter and communication and general image of an organization. Equity must be having one and as to whether that person understands his or her calling is a subject to discussion. The top management cannot be putting concerted effort and to ensure more members in the bank yet they are left on their own to be stollen from right inside the bank.
Could some of these fraud cases at the bank be attributed to equitel SIM cards and the entire weak ICT system of Equity bank?
Could it be by any chance that these fraud at equity bank intentional and inside job by management?
In other institutions, when cases of customer unsatisfaction is reported anywhere, actions are often taken immediately because complaints are part of growth for any business but for equity no serious efforts has been put my management to thwart these fraud cases.