Victims of online banking scams in Bahrain ‘struggle to get their money back’ amid growing number of online burglaries | THE DAILY TRIBUNE

TDT | manama

The Daily Tribune –

No one knows what to do now!

Fraudsters targeting online banking and financial transaction networks in Bahrain appear to be on a rampage; scores continue to lose money from their bank accounts daily.

Victims say banks and money wallet apps fail to take responsibility for protecting their online accounts while trying to engage in a blame game.

And most interestingly, among those who lost money, there is an IT manager from a financial institution.

The Daily Tribune office has so far received dozens of calls from the victims, who are at sea after losing money in their accounts.

Hackers have also managed to steal the accounts of many companies and organizations.

It is high time that the authorities took serious action to contain the fraudsters and their seemingly vast networks that are spreading around the world.

Speaking to the Daily Tribune, Bahrain resident Ajeesh PK, who and his employer lost 4,500 BD to scammers, said he has yet to come to terms with the “nightmare”.

“What happened is hard to believe.

One fine day I woke up to see that BD860 had been stolen from my account through ten online transactions, mostly BD99 and lower amounts.

I also saw two missed calls from a WhatsApp number that is not in my contacts.

“I was also able to see that 100 fils had been transferred to my account using an online payment app with the same number from which the stranger had made WhatsApp calls. I suspect hacking into my account and stealing money and I filed a complaint against him with the local police.

“The same day, I went to my bank branch to block my account. Suddenly my employer called me saying that BD310 was stolen from the company account.

Since my account and my corporate account were in the same bank, I asked the branch manager to block them both.

“While the account blocking process was underway, the thief struck again.

Twenty-five BD99 transactions were made by the thief, leaving bank officials with no idea what to do next.

Subsequently, both accounts were blocked and are no longer used for any transactions. »

Ajeesh said he filed a complaint with Sitra police and CID department but was not sure he would get the stolen money back, which is the case with most of the victims, who contacted the Daily Tribune.

Staff at all commercial banks in Bahrain are now struggling to deal with the growing number of customer complaints after fraudulent online money transfers. “It’s not easy to deal with the growing number of complaints, and we feel embarrassed to deal with our customers as we don’t have real answers to deal with them,” a bank official told the Daily Tribune. .

Banks and Money Wallet Apps Should Take More Responsibility

On the other hand, an IT professional and cybersecurity expert said that financial institutions should collectively form a unit to fight against these online scammers. “In many developed countries, most banks and digital wallets compensate customers for amounts lost to scammers. And they have affected millions in this regard.

Also in Bahrain, I expect banks to take more responsibility and at least share the risk with customers. “I don’t understand how the money is being stolen even after disabling many accounts. The disease has progressed and no treatment seems to be working now.

Hacking or buying accounts!

He said he had discussed the issue with many senior bank officials. “What I was able to learn was that scammers hack into bank accounts or ‘buy accounts from expats leaving the Kingdom’.

The second seems quite strange, but I’ve been told it’s a reality, and “those purchased accounts” are used as focal points for carrying out scams. “Many money wallets offer few procedural difficulties to make customers happy, which is not the right thing. Suppose a long action plan provides security and keeps scammers away.

In this case, it must be adopted because customers are now ready to endure procedural difficulties to keep their money safe in the accounts. He asked why money wallets allow money transfers even after uninstalling and disabling their apps. “There is no automated system to unlink the bank account when installing or deactivating the app, which makes the situation worse, allowing crooks to steal more and more.” The Daily Tribune spoke to many victims who lost their money.

And all of them said that they had not “recovered any sons”.

‘Social engineering’

In an exclusive interview, Ali Beshara, Head of Information Security and Risk Management at The BENEFIT Company, owner of popular online money transfer app BenefitPay, attributed the rise in transfer scams funds online to lack of vigilance on the part of users.

Beshara also pointed out that this type of cybercrime involves “social engineering”, a term used by information security professionals to describe the action of hackers. “Hackers deploy their highest skills in social engineering to obtain information, which is supposed to be kept secret, private and never shared, from their victims.

“It is in these situations that the hacker obtains the password of the BenefitPay application and the OTP (One-Time Password) which is sent to the user in case of device change and money transfer “, he had specified. Beshara pointed out that users are almost completely protected if they don’t click on links sent by fraudsters or share passwords with strangers.

Target by calls

Scammers usually target victims by making calls to their cell phones or sending text messages. Upon receiving the call or SMS, data is leaked and the money is either transferred to other accounts or used to purchase various goods online through the payment application already installed on the mobile phone. A few weeks ago, The Daily Tribune published a report on fraudsters targeting the online banking and financial transactions network in the Kingdom.

The published article focused on the fate of a Bangladeshi national, a Pakistani national and an Indian businessman, who lost almost 1500 BD to the scammers.

Stop answering calls and texts from strangers

Most of the victims filed complaints with the police, pleading for a thorough investigation into the case.

Cybersecurity experts have always emphasized the need to protect the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and online transactions from scammers in light of the increase in online payments. They include not answering calls and texts from strangers and setting different passwords on different UPI accounts and apps.

The Central Bank of Bahrain has repeatedly campaigned and disseminated messages warning of the possibility of falling victim to online fraudsters.

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