By M. Babajide-Alabi,

Living in the UK, you get asked many times how large the Nigeria email scam business is thriving. Some think, as coordinated as the business seems, it must have a government regulatory body. It is usually a hard task convincing people that it is a few percentage of bad Nigerians that are involved in the illegal business.

I do get scam email messages on a daily basis. Some offering a mouth watering share of a hidden national wealth, others advising me to upgrade bank accounts I do not own. You do not need a certificate in English Language to identify the poor sentences in the messages. These scammers are half witted individuals who think their prospective victims are same as them. May be some are.

So you can imagine my dilemma earlier on in January when I got a credit transaction alert from a reputable Nigerian bank.It looked so genuine, but I smiled and said to myself that I would not be fooled as I moved it into the Junk Folder. A scam I was not falling for.

A few weeks later, I got another with the subject, Monthly Statement From — Bank. I became curious about this message for various reasons. So, swiflty, without any thought about the fact that I do not have an account with this bank I clicked on it. I smiled when I saw the details were all in my name. God was working on my behalf. The opening part read: Kindly find attached the transaction statement for the Period of 01 Jan 2014 To 31 Jan 2014 for your account. Despite my excitement I still let the reasoning part of me take control. I did not open the attachment, which actually was the statement of account. Rather than send to the Junk Folder, I flagged it. I said to myself that was the end of “Bank scam” attempt.

I was wrong. Not long after this I received another credit transaction notification from this same bank. At this time I threw caution into the wind. It read: We wish to inform you that a Credit transaction occurred on your account with us. The details of this transaction are shown below: The account had been credited with a tidy sum. I moved the cusor over the email address to confirm the identity of the sender. The first rule in catching out scam mails that stray into your inbox.

I checked this out and found out that the email address was actually from this reputable Nigerian bank with the email address. My heart started pumping fast thereby causing my blood to race so laboriously. I told myself to slow down. The deposited sum is not such a fantastic one for me to lose sleep over.

I tried very hard trying to convince myself that the total sum was not the issue, but the fact that “awoof” money “has arrived”- I have switched to my Nigerian mode now. I have the Account Details, the Statement of Account, the branch details and my “home address” somewhere on Simpson Street, in Ebute Metta, Lagos. I had all that was needed. So confidently I retrieved the monthly statement I got earlier. It read in part: Here is your statement for the specified period. It comprises the accounts shown in blue on the right. This is authentic, I said to myself. I do not have the login details for the Online Account yet. I need to log in to “take my money.” As the thoughts were racing through my head, I recollected that my Pastor taught righteousness the Sunday before. I should not disappoint him.

Three days later I got a debit transaction notification. I was downcast. Mr. Babajide Alabi had started helping himself to this money. How could he? I checked the balance and consoled myself that there was still “serious” money there. So no worries.

The worries came the following day when I got another debit transaction alert. I could not help but shout out loud, “Whats happening to this guy? Does he not know this is now a joint account?” I made up my mind to do something fast before Mr Babajide Alabi cleared all the money in “my account.” I needed to protect this account.

How do I to protect someone else’s money? I put myself in Mr Babajide Alabi’s position. What if my bank is as “loose” with security as the bank in question thereby sending my financial details to another individual who share same names with me? But two individuals dont have same email addresses. I know. This clearly shows that some banks do not take appropriate steps in protecting their customers. This was clear negligence on the part of the Account Officer.

I am a “lucky” guy when it comes to Nigerian bank accounts. For over two years now I have been receiving statements of account from a first generation bank for an account I supposedly have in Benin, I am hoping to visit the branch one day soon and ask for withdrawal slip to take “my” money out.

So also is another of the new generation bank that decided to gift me with a currect account mid 2013. However, there was a mistake on their part. They put down my names as – Mr. Lukmon Suleiman.

In fairness, I feel sorry for the other Mr Babajide Alabi who by the lack of adequate online banking security has been exposed by the same bank meant to protect him. I decided to speak to the bank to put it right.

I gave up after several attempts to speak to someone through the numbers on the email messages. On February 24, 2014 I sent an email to complain this unprofessional lapse.

In a classic example of a poor Customer Relations, an unsigned reply was sent to me on February 25, 2014. There was no decency of an apology. It says: Dear Alabi Babajide, Thank you for contacting (the bank’s name). We sincerely appreciate the feedback. Please be assured that the challenge has been resolved and you would no longer receive alerts from the bank.

I wish I could get in touch with the the other Babajide Alabi who signed up for the bank account and tell him how his financial security has been breached.

Anyway I still have the two other accounts to contend with. I am hoping for a better response when I get in touch with them. Fingers crossed.

Is your bank protecting you?

R